Michigan Football and Georgia to play for first time in a long time

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports /

When Michigan football and Georgia play in the Orange Bowl on Friday it will be the first meeting since 1965. 

Over the years, Michigan football and Georgia have been two of the most successful programs in college football.

That’s not to say the Wolverines or Bulldogs are the best. But over the last four or five decades, dating back to the 1960s really, both programs have won much more than they have lost.

But for some reason, matchups between Michigan and Georgia have been extremely rare. In fact, the two teams haven’t played since 1965, when Vince Dooley and the Bulldogs went to Ann Arbor and notched a win. The only other meeting was in 1957 — a win for the Wolverines.

Many people associate the start of the modern era of Michigan football with the arrival of Bo Schembechler as head coach in 1969 and since then, UGA and U-M have never played.

Both programs have won national championships — 1980 for Georgia, Michigan in 1997 — as well as crowning Heisman trophy winners. Herschel Walker won in 1982, while Michigan saw Desmond Howard win in 1991, as well as Charles Woodson in 1997.

Georgia and Michigan to meet in the Orange Bowl

The first meeting in 56 years will come in the College Football Playoff and this season offers a chance for both programs to capture a long-awaited national championship.

Georgia looked on its way a few years ago but saw Alabama rally to win the national championship and this is the first return trip to the playoff for Kirby Smart and company.

Michigan has never made the College Football Playoff and this is the Wolverines’ first chance at a national championship in 24 years. Georgia has at least made the playoff. Michigan hasn’t seriously contended for a national championship this century and it’s about time.

Both head coaches have been criticized for not winning the big one, so one will get some sort of monkey off their back, and in many ways, Jim Harbaugh already has — he’s playing with house money at this point.

Smart on the other hand? This is a big game for him and if the Bulldogs lose back-to-back games, after dropping the SEC championship, Georgia fans won’t be happy.

Some might even call for him to get fired. College football fans are crazy that way. A year ago, some Michigan fans didn’t want Harbaugh extended.

Thankfully, they didn’t get their wish. Now, we’ll see Harbaugh square off against another head coach that needs to prove himself on the big stage, against a team that the Wolverines haven’t played in over half a century.

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Neal Armstrong hadn’t even walked on the moon the last time Georgia and Michigan met, so it will be a historic evening Friday in Miami and a memorable one as well for the winner.