Michigan vs. FSU Orange Bowl prediction and game preview. Projecting who wins between the Wolverines and Seminoles in Miami Gardens, FL.
Michigan vs. FSU Orange Bowl Preview
When: Friday, Dec. 30 – 8:00 p.m. ET
Where: Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, Florida
TV Broadcast: ESPN
The Wolverines (10-2, 7-2 Big Ten) fell to Ohio State in the regular season finale, which cost them a chance to play for a Big Ten title as well as a berth in the College Football Playoff. Jim Harbaugh’s squad still claimed a New Year’s Six bowl despite the double-overtime loss to the Buckeyes, but a playoff berth slipped through its collective fingers. And that’s going to be a tough rebound for this team.
Meanwhile, the Seminoles (9-3, 5-3 ACC) are coming off of a 31-13 home win over rival Florida, as the Seminoles used Dalvin Cook’s 153 yards on 26 carries to carry them toward a victory. Cook became the first FSU back since Sammie Smith in 1988 to have three straight 100-yard games against the Gators.
What To Know About Michigan
The Wolverines fell short of a Big Ten championship and a shot at a national title with late road losses to Iowa and Ohio State, the latter of which was the nail in the coffin for Harbaugh’s squad. The Wolverines were not very impressive at a time when they needed to be at their best, although this is still a nice reward for Harbaugh in his second season.
Quarterback Wilton Speight should be 100 percent for this game after dealing with a shoulder injury, which may-or-may-not have affected him against the Buckeyes. One thing is for sure: De’Veon Smith and Jabrill Peppers will be heavily involved in the offensive game plan. Smith is a durable back, while I would expect Peppers to be involved in a trick play or two as well as the Wildcat.
What to Know About FSU
I would expect a very motivated Florida State team in this one, unlike the squad we saw last year in the bowl loss against Houston. FSU endured a disappointing 2016 season, as the ‘Noles entered the campaign looking to reclaim ACC supremacy and reach the College Football Playoff. Jimbo Fisher and Co. had a schedule that set up well for a CFP run, but it found out in the season opener against Ole Miss that it would experience its share of defensive deficiencies.
The unit has played better over the last several weeks, but it definitely didn’t live up to expectations. However, redshirt freshman quarterback Deondre Francois exceeded expectations, and he proved to be one of the toughest competitors in the country. Of course, it’s always nice to have a running back like Cook as well.
Offense: FSU. The Wolverines have struggled down the stretch, while the ‘Noles have Cook.
Defense: Michigan. The ‘Noles have improved in the latter part of the season, but this is really not even close.
Special Teams: Michigan. Kenny Allen is perfect on extra points and has missed just four field goals on the year.
Coaching: FSU. A slight edge has to be given to Fisher, who owns a national championship.
Intangibles: FSU. I have a feeling the ‘Noles want to be here, especially after showing that they can put behind tough losses and finish strong as they did in the regular season.
Matchup To Watch
Derwin James vs. His health
The injury bug bit the ‘Noles in a big way in an easy win over Charleston Southern very early in the season, as star safety James was lost to a torn meniscus in his left knee. He didn’t play another down in the regular season. James was second on the team in sacks, tackles for loss, and tackles as a true freshman in 2015, and he was leading the team in tackles at the time of his injury. In addition to subpar play from a banged-up defensive line, the loss of one of the nation’s best defensive backs unquestionably impacted coordinator Charles Kelly’s unit. But James could return for this one, as he teased on social media, so his addition after a slew of bowl practices would be big against this Michigan offense.
Spread: No Spread (as of post)
Over/Under: No Line (as of post)
Michigan vs. FSU Prediction
Very few head coaches would be able to have his team avoid a hangover effect, which the Wolverines could possibly be enduring after a rough finish to the season. But Harbaugh will have his squad ready. FSU puts up a valiant effort behind Francois and Cook, but a Peppers punt return for a score is the difference in this one.
Michigan vs. FSU Final Score Prediction: Michigan 31, FSU 24
Campus Insiders Staff Picks
Brian Stultz: Michigan
Dave Miller: Michigan
Jeff Bartl: Michigan
Rich Cirminiello: Michigan
Robert Judin: Michigan
Pete Fiutak: Michigan