Preview and Analysis from TWD Staff Writer Gracie Marx
After a long, but wild few weeks of no football filled with recruit commitments, Orange Bowl week has finally arrived. #6 Michigan will be taking on the #11 Florida State Seminoles on December 30th at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Florida.
Michigan has many key players to look out for during this game. First, Jabrill Peppers. Peppers has not made an announcement regarding his return to the Wolverines and this game could potentially be the last time he puts on that Wolverine uniform. Many project that Peppers will be saying goodbye to the Maize and Blue and end up declaring for the draft. Pepper’s impact on the defense with help from players like Jourdan Lewis and Chris Wormley will be crucial in this contest. These three will eventually fluster the Florida State offense. Michigan’s defense is clearly its strength, however offensive threats such as Amara Darboh and Jake Butt could cause problems for Florida State’s defensive backs.
It must be noted though that the Seminoles have a plethora of strong offensive players that can test that strong Michigan defense. Dalvin Cook, the Seminoles’ leading RB, has displayed tremendous talent this season rushing for 1,620 yards and 18 scores. Cook was also the second leading receiver for the Seminoles with 30 catches and one touchdown. Florida State’s QB Deondre Francois finished with 3,128 yards, 18 touchdowns and 6 interceptions as a freshman. Florida State’s star defensive end DeMarcus Walker is a monster in the trenches and will give Michigan’s offensive line plenty of problems. Walker led the team in sacks (15.0), tackles for a loss (17.0), and tackles (64).
Michigan’s offense is not exemplary, however Speight and the Wolverines move the ball well enough to get the job done. Florida State is going to have a challenge going up against this Michigan defense. Michigan will prevail, winning the game with some strong defensive plays.
Preview and Analysis from TWD Staff Writer Phil Lutz
At this point in the season, the teams are still ranked and hungry to make it known that they should have been in consideration for the playoffs. Michigan is ranked 6th and Florida State is ranked 11th. Both teams have things to prove to themselves and the country, going into next season. This is also a huge recruiting tool for the universities as the teams that go to the better bowls and the playoffs are more likely to be considered by the better prospects.
Both of these teams are well coached and have very enthusiastic fan bases. Both sets of fans travel well, and have historic traditions that set them apart from the rest of the country. Recently, Coach Jim Harbaugh of the Michigan Wolverines asked for the Seminoles’ Indian on the horse with the spear to hopefully be allowed at the game. He said it was one of the coolest things in college football today. This just days after Michigan missed out on being in the playoff this year. Of course, the many controversial no calls or blown calls in the Ohio State game moved Michigan out of playoff contention. This Michigan fan is still asking why the chains were not brought out on the crucial 4th down in overtime. The head of officiating for the big ten said it was close enough either way it was called on the field the replay booth would not overturn it, but that ship has unfortunately sailed.
Both Michigan and Florida State have starting quarterbacks that have played basically all season. Freshman Deondre Francois from Florida State has an efficiency rating of 143.7 percent for the season. He has completed 226 passes on 373 attempts. He has 3128 yards this season with 18 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. Redshirt junior Wilton Speight for Michigan has an efficiency rating of 145.6 percent this season. He has completed 183 passes on 293 attempts. He has 2375 yards this season with 17 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. This makes these teams essentially equal on this front.
Running backs for the teams are a very different matter though.
Michigan used many backs this season with great efficiency. Michigan’s overall number one running back was De’Veon Smith. He had 165 carries resulting in 810 yards with 10 touchdowns. Close behind was freshman Chris Evans with 80 carries and 565 yards. He scored 3 touchdowns. Florida State has one main running back in junior Dalvin Cook. Cook had 268 carries for 1620 yards and 18 touchdowns. The second best running back for Florida State is the quarterback, Deondre Francois. He had 989 attempts for 198 yards and 4 touchdowns. This means the Wolverines will need to watch out for the quarterback running the ball in this game, which has not been one of Michigan’s strengths.
The equalizer in this game will be the Michigan defense. They are a solid group looking to show the country that they are the best there is in CFB today. They have dominated every team at home, but have struggled on the road this year. They have 2 losses this season and both have been on the road (Ohio State and Iowa). This will be basically a home game for the Seminoles so Michigan had better be ready for a hostile environment.
The gems of this game will truly be the coaching of Jim Harbaugh and the play of Heisman nominee Jabrill Peppers. Coach Harbaugh has reenergized this team and fan base in a very short amount of time being in Ann Arbor. He brings a fire and attitude unknown to college football. “Mr. Swiss Army Man”, Jabrill Peppers is all over the field on all aspects of it. It is unknown as of yet if this will be his last game as a Wolverine, but he will play on every unit for this important game. Peppers is quite simply a game changer every time he goes out onto the field.
Will Michigan show that they deserved to be in the playoff? In my opinion, they will. It is not known if they will handle Florida State like they did Florida last year, but in my opinion, they will do enough to win this game.
Brad Powers Bowl Prediction
Brad is the lead CFB analyst for Pregame.com in Las Vegas, an Associated Press exclusive odds predictor. Below is what he provided us about the Orange Bowl.
“A great matchup here with two traditional powers who haven’t met since 1991 when #1 Florida St beat #3 Michigan 51-31 in Ann Arbor. Jim Harbaugh is 2-1/3-0 SU/ATS in bowl games while Jimbo Fisher is 4-2 SU/3-3 ATS. This is only the 5th time in last 77 games that Florida St has been in the underdog role (3-1 ATS previous 4 times). While Michigan is the better team, I will be backing Florida St here plus the points. First, I have concerns about Michigan’s performance away from home this year as they only had 4 road games and just 3 outside the state of Michigan. I think it’s okay to exclude the Rutgers road trip because the Scarlet Knights were so awful this season. In the other 3 road games, they failed to cover against Michigan St (they had an opportunity to step on the Spartans’ throats in the second half and didn’t). Then the Wolverines lost outright at Iowa as a 3-TD favorite. In the finale, Michigan out-played Ohio St for much of the game and looked like the better team. However, like the Michigan St and Utah games from last season, the Wolverines just didn’t make the plays they needed to at the end of the game.
On the other side, the narrative on Florida St was officially written when they were crushed by Louisville early in the season. The reality is that this is still a legitimate Top 10 team that lost to North Carolina on a 55-yard FG on the final play (a game they easily could’ve won) and they also could’ve beaten playoff-bound Clemson if not for a bad penalty in the 4Q (lost by 3). Their biggest weakness is on defense where they struggled when facing up-tempo spread offenses with mobile QB’s (Louisville, South Florida and Clemson). Obviously, Michigan doesn’t have a mobile QB in Wilton Speight and they run a pro-style offense.
Florida St also has familiarity with this venue. In fact, since Michigan last played here on Jan. 1, 2000 (Tom Brady was the starting QB for the Wolverines), FSU has played here 13 times going 7-1 SU/ATS their last 8 trips including an “upset” win over Miami, FL here earlier this year. I think the two teams are nearly equal talent wise and you also have two Top 5 coaches in college football. While I have a strong take on Florida St (+7) in this game, I do think Michigan gets the straight up win something in the 26-24 range meaning I also lean with UNDER 52.5.”
Our Senior Editor posted the following poll and below are the final results with over to 5,000 votes.
College Football Poll: Orange Bowl Prediction
— David Noe (@DavidRNoe) December 28, 2016
This showdown will be one of the most anticipated bowls of the season. Michigan is focused, the preparation is finished and fans are ready for a great end to the 2016 season.