The 2021 Orange Bowl semifinal game features two teams similar not only for their play style but also for their status as college football blue bloods looking to return to the pinnacle of college football.
No. 2 Michigan has enjoyed its most successful season in years under Jim Harbaugh in 2021, upending Ohio State for the first time since 2011 and winning its first outright Big Ten championship since 2003. That has resulted not only in the Wolverines’ first ever playoff berth, but also their best chance at a national championship since their historic 1997 season, when they won the AP national championship but lost the Coaches Poll vote to Nebraska.
MORE: College football bowl picks, predictions for all 43 postseason games in 2021-22
No. 3 Georgia, meanwhile, can’t be happy with the way it entered the playoff. The Bulldogs appeared ready to enter as the top overall seed before a shocking upset to then-third-ranked Alabama in the SEC championship game — not for the loss itself, but for how thoroughly the Crimson Tide dominated Georgia like no other team had all season. Kirby Smart will certainly look to use that game as fuel heading into the Bulldogs’ second-ever playoff appearance.
The Wolverines and Bulldogs enter this game with stalwart defenses and offenses that don’t lose games. It figures to feature plenty of defensive standouts, but the winning team will be able to make plays on both sides of the ball.
With that, here’s what you need to know about this year’s Orange Bowl semifinal, including time, location, betting odds, past winners and more.
What time does Michigan vs. Georgia start?
- Date: Friday, Dec. 31
- Time: 7:30 p.m. ET, 4:30 p.m. PT
Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET on Friday, Dec. 31. It is the second of the two playoff games, following the Cotton Bowl matchup between No. 1 Alabama and No. 4 Michigan at 3:30 p.m. ET.
What channel is Michigan vs. Georgia on tonight?
The game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN. Chris Fowler (play-by-play) and Kirk Herbstreit (analyst) will call the game from the booth, while Holly Rowe and Marty Smith will report from the sidelines.
ESPN is also rolling out its Megacast for the College Football Playoff, once again providing alternate broadcasts across its family of networks. Here’s the full rundown.
|Spanish language||ESPN Deportes|
Live stream for College Football Playoff semifinals
Both College Football Playoff semifinals will broadcast on ESPN and are available to stream live on all of the network’s digital platforms (ESPN.com, ESPN App, etc.).
Cord-cutters have several live streaming options available to watch. Below is the list.
|Streaming option||Cable subscription needed?||Free?||Cost||Free trial?|
|Yahoo! Sports App||No||Yes||–||–|
|AT&T TV Now||No||No||$55/month||Yes|
|Hulu Plus Live TV||No||No||$55/month||Yes|
Who plays in the Orange Bowl in 2021?
No. 2 Michigan will play No. 3 Georgia in the Orange Bowl in Miami Gardens, Fla. The Wolverines (12-1) earned their right to play in their first playoff game after beating No. 2 Ohio State for the first time since 2011, then turning around to beat No. 13 Iowa for the team’s first outright Big Ten championship since 2003.
No. 3 Georgia (12-1) made its way to the playoff as the result of its season-long dominance, which included wins over ranked opponents in No. 3 Clemson, No. 8 Arkansas, No. 18 Auburn and No. 11 Kentucky. The Bulldogs were so commanding that they were considered a lock for the playoff even if they lost to No. 3 Alabama in the SEC championship game. The Crimson Tide did indeed upset Smart and Co., dropping the Bulldogs from the top overall seed to No. 3.
Where is the Orange Bowl semifinal being played?
The Orange Bowl has taken place at Hard Rock Stadium, home of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins, since 1996 (though the stadium has had several names since opening in 1987). The one exception was the 1999 meeting between Florida and Syracuse. The Orange Bowl originally took place at Miami Field from 1935-37 before moving to its historic home at the Miami Orange Bowl from 1938-96 and 1999. This will be the third time the Orange Bowl hosts a playoff semifinal following the 2015 and ’18 seasons.
CFP ODD: Why Georgia can win | Why Michigan can win
Michigan vs. Georgia betting odds
Georgia (-7.5) is favored to win the 2021 Orange Bowl over Michigan, per FanDuel. The over/under is set at 44.5 points.
Orange Bowl history
The Orange Bowl — in operation since 1935 — usually included the champion of the former Big Eight Conference from 1968 until the conference absorbed four members of the Southwest Conference in 1996. From 1999-2005, the Orange Bowl included either the ACC or Big East champion, except in seasons when one or both of those teams were playing for the BCS national championship (or in cases where the Orange Bowl itself hosted the BCS championship).
The Orange Bowl entered into an exclusive contract with the ACC in 2006, guaranteeing its champion or runner-up would play in the bowl game. The start of the College Football Playoff era in 2014, however, introduced a convoluted tie-in process that lasts until 2025. It includes not only the ACC champion, but also (potentially) the ACC runner-up and the highest-ranked eligible team out of the Big Ten, SEC or Notre Dame, depending on whether the Orange Bowl serves as a semifinal host:
- If the ACC champion qualifies for the playoff in a year in which the Orange Bowl isn’t a semifinal host, the next-highest-ranking team from the conference (using College Football Playoff rankings) will play in place of the champion.
- The ACC team’s opponent will be the highest-ranking team out of the SEC, Big Ten or Notre Dame, though champions from the two conferences are excluded due to contractual obligations with the Sugar and Rose bowls, respectively.
- If an SEC and/or Big Ten team qualifies for the playoff, the next available teams from those conferences would also be excluded from the Orange Bowl due to respective tie-ins to the Sugar Bowl and Rose Bowl.
- The Orange Bowl can pass over teams if they would create a rematch from the regular season with the ACC participant.
- The SEC and Big Ten are guaranteed three appearances each; the Big Ten played in its third Orange Bowl under the current contract in 2017, while the SEC reached that mark in January 2021.
- Notre Dame has zero guaranteed appearances and can only play in the Orange Bowl a maximum of two times under the current contract. It has yet to play in the Orange Bowl since the start of the playoff era.
Below are the results of the Orange Bowl dating back to 1999, the first year of its ACC/Big East tie-in:
Rankings from Dec. 31, 2014 onward reflect CFP top 25. All other rankings reflect AP Top 25.
|2021||No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 3 Georgia||TBD||CFP semifinal
Played Dec. 31, 2021
|2021||No. 5 Texas A&M vs. No. 13 North Carolina||Texas A&M 41, North Carolina 27||Played Jan. 2, 2021|
|2019||No. 9 Florida vs. No. 24 Virginia||Florida 36, Virginia 28|
|2018||No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Oklahoma||Alabama 45, Oklahoma 34||CFP semifinal|
|2017||No. 6 Wisconsin vs. No. 10 Miami||Wisconsin 34, Miami 24|
|2016||No. 11 Florida State vs. No. 6 Michigan||Florida State 33, Michigan 32|
|2015||No. 1 Clemson vs. No. 4 Oklahoma||Clemson 37, Oklahoma 17||CFP semifinal|
|2014||No. 12 Georgia Tech vs. No. 7 Mississippi State||Georgia Tech 49, Mississippi State 34||Played Dec. 31, 2014|
|2014||No. 12 Clemson vs. No. 7 Ohio State||Clemson 40, Ohio State 35||Played Jan. 3, 2014|
|2013||No. 13 Florida State vs. No. 16 Northern Illinois||Florida State 31, Northern Illinois 10|
|2012||No. 17 West Virginia vs. No. 22 Clemson 33||West Virginia 70, Clemson 33|
|2011||No. 5 Stanford vs. No. 12 Virginia Tech||Stanford 40, Virginia Tech 12|
|2010||No. 10 Iowa vs. No. 9 Georgia Tech||Iowa 24, Georgia Tech 14|
|2009||No. 21 Virginia Tech vs. No. 12 Cincinnati||Virginia Tech 20, Cincinnati 7|
|2008||No. 8 Kansas vs. No. 5 Virginia Tech||Kansas 24, Virginia Tech 21|
|2007||No. 5 Louisville vs. No. 15 Wake Forest||Louisville 24, Wake Forest 13|
|2006||No. 3 Penn State vs. No. 22 Florida State||Penn State 26, Florida State 23|
|2005||No. 1 USC vs. No. 2 Oklahoma||USC 55, Oklahoma 19||BCS championship|
|2004||No. 10 Miami vs. No. 9 Florida State||Miami 16, Florida State 14|
|2003||No. 5 USC vs. No. 3 Iowa||USC 38, Iowa 17|
|2002||No. 5 Florida vs. No. 6 Maryland||Florida 56, Maryland 23|
|2001||No. 1 Oklahoma vs. No. 3 Florida State||Oklahoma 11, Florida State 2||BCS championship|
|2000||No. 8 Michigan vs. No. 5 Alabama||Michigan 35, Alabama 34 (OT)|
|1999||No. 7 Florida vs. No. 18 Syracuse||Florida 31, Syracuse 10|