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Weekday mornings on Michigan Radio, Doug Tribou hosts NPR's Morning Edition, the most listened-to news radio program in the country.

John U. Bacon: Michigan has "tough path" against Georgia in College Football Playoff semi-final

The University of Michigan football team beat Iowa, 42-3, in the Big 10 Football Championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN., on Dec. 4, 2021.
Michigan Photography/Roger Hart
The University of Michigan football team beat Iowa, 42-3, in the Big 10 Football Championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN., on Dec. 4, 2021.

In college football, it was a big weekend for the Michigan Wolverines and their fans. Michigan beat Iowa Saturday night to become the Big Ten Conference champions. On Sunday, Michigan got a spot in the four-team College Football Playoff and a chance at a national title. U of M will face Georgia on New Year's Eve.

Michigan radio sports commentator John U. Bacon talked to Michigan Radio's Morning Edition host Doug Tribou about Michigan's win and chances of beating Georgia.

Doug Tribou: Let’s start with that win over Iowa. Final score: Michigan 42, Iowa 3. What most impressed you about Michigan’s performance?

John U. Bacon: Well, the offense. Iowa's got a top-10 defense. The team's not that great, but that defense is, and Michigan tagged them for six touchdowns, four in the second half. So they're on all cylinders.

College Football Playoff games: Cotton Bowl – Alabama vs. Cincinnati, December 31 at 3:30 p.m. Orange Bowl – Michigan vs. Georgia , December 31 at 7:30 p.m.

DT: John, in the College Football Playoff Alabama is No 1., Michigan is No. 2.. Georgia is No. 3, and Cincinnati is No. 4. In the semi-final games on December 31, Alabama will play Cincinnati in the Cotton Bowl. And Michigan will play Georgia in the Orange Bowl. Georgia had been No. 1 until Alabama beat the Bulldogs in the SEC title game Saturday. Did the selection committee get the final four right?

JUB: Well, they got it right for what they care about, which is TV ratings. It was very easy to predict on Twitter [Sunday] that they were going to split, if you will, Georgia and Alabama. For you non-football fans out there, Georgia just played Alabama, as you said, in the SEC title game. Alabama wins. Now, if you did the rankings, the way, they're probably supposed to go, they would have played each other again in the next round. Who wants to see that? Bad TV ratings.

So you knew they were going to split them up. And Michigan now has a very tough path through Georgia and then through Alabama, arguably the two best teams in the nation.

DT: Georgia was dominant this year, undefeated until that loss to Alabama over the weekend. How does Michigan stack up against the Bulldogs?

JUB: Very similarly to how they stacked up against the Ohio State Buckeyes, Georgia is a great team, so was Ohio State. Similar strengths, and Michigan is again about a seven-point underdog. So, it's the Ohio State game all over again.

DT: Michigan State also landed a premier bowl game slot [Sunday]. In the latest rankings, the Spartans are No. 10 in the country. They will face No. 12 Pittsburgh in the Peach Bowl on December 30. Is the Peach Bowl a fitting reward for the Spartans and their 10-win season?

JUB: Not just a fitting award, but a great reward. The Peach Bowl is one of the "New Year's Six" bowl games, the top six bowl games out there, and that's about as good as it gets outside the playoffs. So the Spartans have had a great season, [were] expected to be 4-8. They're now 10-2 and Mel Tucker is appropriately the coach of the year in the Big Ten.

Michigan's win over Iowa marked its first Big Ten Conference title since 2004.

DT: Well, now, John, for college football fans, it's the worst part of the season. As Tom Petty would say, the waiting is the hardest part. You find out about all these potentially exciting games, and now we're just sitting for weeks.

JUB: It's worse than that, Doug. We're not just sitting well listening to these [player and coach] interviews that are mind-numbing [and] unbelievably stupid, there I said it, where the guy says, "Talk about that time you won the game," and the [other] guy says, "I liked it." And then you do it again.

DT: John, before I let you go, we would be remiss if we did not mention the biggest football news to come out of this past weekend. The Lions have a "1" in the wins column. The Detroit Lions got their first win of the season over the Minnesota Vikings [Sunday].

JUB: Whoa, whoa, whoa. Wait a second, wait a second. I'm confused. So you're telling me that the Lions scored some points and then the game ended. And then what was that called again? Oh, that's right. Winning, winning.

DT: They had more points than the other team at the end of the game. [laughing]

JUB: And the game then ended. Correct? Let me look that one up and get back to you. But it's something different. Something new.

DT: Well, congrats to the Lions, and we can end "Lions winless watch," which seems to happen all too frequently.

Editor's note: Quotes in this story have been edited for length and clarity. You can listen to the full interview near the top of this page.

Doug Tribou joined the Michigan Public staff as the host of Morning Edition in 2016. Doug first moved to Michigan in 2015 when he was awarded a Knight-Wallace journalism fellowship at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
John U. Bacon has worked nearly three decades as a writer, a public speaker, and a college instructor, winning awards for all three.
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