On Georgia’s second drive, Bennett completed three passes before a successful handoff to Kenny McIntosh, a junior tailback. McIntosh ran a bit, mostly toward the sideline, before he lifted his right arm and lofted a pass toward the end zone. Mitchell caught the 18-yard throw on the maize-stained “A” in Michigan’s block lettering in the end zone.
It gave Georgia a 14-point lead at the end of the first quarter. In the second quarter, it became clearer that the kind of magic that Michigan had been able to conjure all season was absent.
McNamara, a junior with 2,470 passing yards to his name entering Friday’s semifinal, connected with Roman Wilson to gain 42 yards and thrust Michigan to Georgia’s 19.
Nineteen yards, of course, offered 19 yards of potential tripwires to account for. But perhaps Michigan did not count on Nakobe Dean, the nation’s top linebacker, threatening behind the line of scrimmage. After all, Dean had arrived in Florida with 6.5 sacks over the entirety of his three-season career — not even half of Aidan Hutchinson’s tally this season at Michigan.
But Dean stormed ahead and punctured the Michigan offensive line that had so dazzled John Madden just more than a month ago, when the Wolverines picked apart Ohio State. McNamara went to the ground for an 8-yard loss. The Wolverines, who never recorded a sack of their own on Friday, soon settled for a field goal.
Michigan later replaced McNamara as the scoreless third quarter dragged to an end and deployed J.J. McCarthy, a freshman who had attempted just 42 passes this season.
Georgia, though, had already added a pair of field goals and then, with a 57-yard throw to Jermaine Burton, yet another touchdown. In the fourth quarter, Bennett crashed to the turf after a blue-jerseyed Wolverine plowed into him — but only after the quarterback had hurled yet another touchdown, this one going 39 yards to James Cook, the younger brother of the star Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook.