Orange Bowl Review: #11 Florida State 33 – #6 Michigan 32
This isn’t how the Wolverines didn’t expect their season to end. Starting of 9-0 they ended up 10-2 on the season, losing two of their last three games. Out of the playoffs, Michigan changed their focus to Florida State in the Orange bowl. Sadly, that game didn’t go as planned and Michigan came out flat, had a strong fourth quarter, but couldn’t put away the Seminoles.
Wilton Speight was off all game long. He missed on some deep passes and faced pressure constantly and made some mistakes. Speight ended up going 21/38 for 163 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Speight just wasn’t on his A game and he needed to be to end the Wolverines season on a high note.
Running the ball wasn’t effective against the Seminoles tough defensive line. De’Veon Smith was eaten up all game, getting only 36 yards on 16 carries. Chris Evans had the better game, getting only eight carries for 49 yards and a touchdown. His speed was what helped him out as the power for Smith wasn’t enough to gain yards.
Receiving for the Wolverines was an issue as well. Amara Darboh had five catches for 36 yards, while Ian Bunting was the leading receiver with three catches for 40 yards. Jake Butt had three catches for 28 yards and would leave the game with a possible MCL or ACL injury. Khalid Hill was the only receiver to catch a touchdown, getting two catches for 13 yards and a touchdown.
The offensive line was ripped up all game long. The interior was the major issue, not creating many holes for the running game and lacked in giving Speight time in the pocket. It was the worst game by the offensive line this year.
While the offense struggled, so did the defense. On the bright side for the defense, Taco Charlton improved his draft stock. Getting five tackles, a sack, and a pass deflection. The defensive line struggled to stop Dalvin Cook, as he shredded the defense for 145 yards on 20 carries for a touchdown, along with three catches for 62 yards.
The big story of the game was no Jabrill Peppers. He injured his hamstring at practice on Thursday, causing him to miss the game and he said if the game was Saturday he would have been able to play. Mike McCray had the big game for the linebackers, getting four tackles, and a pick six.
The secondary was tested with Deondre Francois and he picked them apart getting 222 yards and two touchdowns. Dymonte Thomas lead the team in tackles with seven, getting two pass deflections as well and recovering the blocked extra point and returning it for two points. Josh Metellus had six tackles, while Jourdan Lewis had two tackles and a pass deflection. Channing Stribling had a tackle and a pass deflection.
Special Teams was the biggest downfall for the Wolverines. Kenny Allen made all of his field goals, his longest from 37 yards out. He did well punting too, booting it eight times for 379 yards. Jourdan Lewis had to return kicks and punts with Peppers out and he had 40 yards on two kick returns and -1 yard on his two punt returns. Michigan only allowed one kick return and it was for 66 yards, leading to the game winning touchdown for the Seminoles.
Season Overview and Notes
Coming into the season, Michigan was projected to be a playoff team and compete for the National Championship. The loss to Iowa hurt the teams moral and the controversy against Ohio State seemed to have made the Wolverines angry and gave up on the year. The first half of this game Michigan didn’t look like a playoff team and they weren’t their best. The second half they performed better but still couldn’t finish off Florida State, despite scoring with less than two minutes left.
Michigan had back to back 10-3 years, and what many will call a “disappointment” to the season, think about this. Michigan was 5-7 just two years ago and Harbaugh has doubled the wins in back to back years. He has turned this team around and he still is playing with many of Hoke’s players. He will bring a championship to Michigan and with many players leaving this year, it may take an extra year for that plan to finally achieve itself, but they will get it eventually. Trust the process.