Orange Bowl Preview: #6 Michigan Wolverines vs. #11 Florida State Seminoles
This year didn’t end up like many expected. Many fans and analysts saw the Wolverines in the playoff picture come December. A loss to Iowa and Ohio State ruined those plans and Michigan ended up in the Orange bowl. While the Orange bowl is still a great bowl to go to, it isn’t the playoffs. Michigan players say they are “over” the Ohio State loss and are focused on Florida State in the Orange bowl. While I believe them, you have to believe that they are still upset and are going to try to prove to the committee that they got it wrong.
This game won’t be an easy one. While Florida State had a down year, they can still be a tough matchup for the Wolverines and could pull off an upset. Michigan wants and needs to win this game to prove themselves for this year. A loss to Florida State would make this year a failure, despite its many successes.
What to Expect Against Florida State
Wilton Speight should be back to his true self come Friday. While he played against Ohio State, you could tell he was injured and was playing hurt. A month later he should be back to his true self. He is going to have a tough time against this Florida State defense though. He needs to be careful in not causing turnovers, as they were the root cause for the loss to Ohio State.
The Orange bowl will be the battle of defensive lines. While Michigan doesn’t have a stud running back like Dalvin Cook, De’Veon Smith and company will still have a tough game against Florida State’s defensive line. The main player to watch is DeMarcus Walker. He leads the team in sacks, forced fumbles and tackles. Walker has 64 tackles, 16 for loss, 15 sacks and three forced fumbles. The running game and offensive line will be tested greatly against Walker.
The receiving game for the Wolverines will be a tough matchup against the leading interception leader in the ACC, Tarvarus McFadden. McFadden had 17 tackles, five pass deflections and eight interceptions. Speight will need to make sure he limits his throws at McFadden and luckily he has more than one weapon as McFadden will cover either Amara Darboh or Jehu Chesson.
The other problem for Michigan when it comes to the offensive line is Brian Burns. While Walker gets all the attention, Burns sneaks by and puts up good numbers. He has 24 tackles, 10.5 for loss, nine and a half sacks and a forced fumble. Michigan’s offensive line will have a tough test with this Florida State.
Florida State’s passing game is led by quarterback Deondre Francois, who has thrown for 3,128 yards, 18 touchdowns and six interceptions. The secondary and defensive line should have their hands full with Francois as he can also run with the ball, getting 189 yards on the ground and four touchdowns.
The main goal for the Wolverines is to stop Dalvin Cook. He was considered a Heisman candidate with a great year, getting 1,620 yards on 268 carries and 18 touchdowns. He can also hurt you in the air, getting 30 catches for 426 yards and one touchdown. Michigan has an elite defensive line that can be good enough to contain Cook. Taco Charlton, Rashan Gary, Chris Wormley, Ryan Glasgow and Maurice Hurst should do the job and against the weak Florida State offensive line.
Florida State has two main threats in the receiving game, Travis Rudolph and Auden Tate. Rudolph leads the team in catches, yards and touchdowns, getting 53 for 807 yards and seven touchdowns. Auden Tate has only 25 catches for 409 yards, but six touchdowns. Jourdan Lewis and Channing Stribling will have the job to cover both of those receivers and they should hold their own.
Overall the Orange bowl will be a tough game for the Wolverines, but with their defensive line being more impressive than Florida State’s, that will be the key difference in the game. If Dalvin Cook gets stopped in his tracks this game is over for Florida State. If Cook is able to put up some numbers, Michigan is in trouble. Michigan’s defense is one of the best in the country and that will prove to be the difference come Friday night.
Prediction: #6 Michigan 31 – #11 Florida State 17
Brandon Knapp covers the Michigan Wolverines, follow him on Twitter @BKnappBlogs