Orange Bowl Preview: Michigan Wolverines vs Florida State Seminoles
This year’s Orange Bowl features one of the most intriguing match-ups of the New Years Six Bowls. The sixth ranked Michigan Wolverines (10-2) and the 11th ranked Florida State Seminoles (9-3) will square off on Dec. 30th in Miami.
Michigan saw its College Football Playoff and Big Ten Championship dreams fall by the wayside thanks to a 30-27 double overtime loss to Ohio State.
The Seminoles, on the other hand, dominated Florida 31-13 in their rivalry game.
Orange Bowl Preview
Michigan Wins If…
On offense, Michigan needs to maintain its balance. The Wolverines use a committee approach to their rushing attack. As a result, the offensive line needs to get push to give their myriad of backs, including Heisman Finalist Jabrill Peppers room to run. With an established running game taking Florida State’s pass rush out of the equation, Michigan should then look for mismatches with tight end, Jake Butt. That task should be made easier with Seminoles’ safety, Ermon Lane, being sidelined due to injury.
Defensively, the recipe for beating Florida State remains unchanged. All Michigan has to do is win the line of scrimmage. If Dalvin Cook is hit before he can find a crease, then his big play ability is significantly reduced, if not eliminated. Slowing down Cook also puts Florida State behind the chains. The Wolverines can then focus on pressuring Deondre Francois. Francois took a beating this year, so getting to him is not the problem, but actually getting sacks is. Steady pressure can also lead to turnovers, and Michigan is one of the best teams in the nation at producing them.
Florida State Wins If…
Offensively, the Florida State line needs to keep Deondre Francois upright. They did a much better job of this against Florida and as a result, he was able to carve up the Gators’ secondary. However, the Seminoles’ passing attack is secondary to getting Dalvin Cook going. There is a reason that he is Florida State’s all time leading rusher. Any game plan that doesn’t feature him touching the ball regularly is a losing one.
On the other side of the ball, Florida State’s keys to success are similar to Michigan’s. First, the Seminoles must eliminate the run and keep the Wolverines behind in the chains. Doing so will give DeMarcus Walker and company opportunities to put pressure on Wolverines’ quarterback, Wilson Speight. The Seminoles also need to force turnovers. This game involves two teams that value time of possession, so if the Seminoles can still a possession or two they should be in good shape to win.
This game is one of the more evenly matched games of the bowl season. Both teams feature traditional offenses and sound, opportunistic defenses. An x-factor for this game is motivation, though. Michigan is a team who feels snubbed by not getting invited to the College Football Playoff. Florida State, on the other hand, should be just happy to be playing in a New Years Six Bowl after a slow start to the season. With that in mind, expect Florida State to eek out a narrow win.
FSU – 27 UM – 23