Michigan sees shot at redemption vs. Seminoles in Orange Bowl
Michigan players had higher goals this season, most notably a Big Ten championship and national title.
Now they’re looking to make a statement and prove they really are one of the nation’s top teams. The sixth-ranked Wolverines (10-2) will face Florida State (9-3) in the Orange Bowl on Dec. 30 in Miami Gardens, Fla., a New Year’s Six game.
Michigan, ranked No. 5 in the CFP after a double-overtime loss at Ohio State, held onto the hope it could make a move into the CFP with a loss by either Washington or Clemson in their conference championship games over the weekend. Wolverines lost two of their final three games by a total of four points.
“I know a lot of Michigan fans are emotional,” senior tight end and co-captain Jake Butt said Sunday night. “I said it today, do I feel like we’re one of the four best teams in the country? Absolutely I do, but that’s on us. We had a chance to prove that, and we didn’t. You’ve got to give credit where it’s due.”
Washington and Clemson won and are in the playoff, joining Alabama and Ohio State, and Michigan dropped to No. 6 in the CFP rankings behind Penn State, the winner of the Big Ten championship game.
ORANGE BOWL TICKET INFORMATION
Michigan lost at Iowa, 14-13, on a field goal at the end of the game and two weeks later lost at arch-rival Ohio State, 30-27, in double overtime.
“We knew Clemson or Washington had to lose for us to have a solid chance,” quarterback Wilton Speight said Sunday night. “It’s not done by computer, it’s done with people with brains, emotions and thoughts. We thought there was still a chance.
“We put ourselves in this position to leave it up to other people. Four points away from sitting here in front of you guys undefeated. It’s tough, but at the same time we’ve got a lot to prove and we can really make a statement in Miami.”
A number of Michigan players took to social media to reiterate that they controlled the outcome of their season and blamed themselves for not being in the playoff.
“We take care of business, we’re in,” Jabrill Peppers wrote Sunday on Twitter. “We don’t we’re not & we didn’t. Can’t know the teams that did.”
“The fact that 4 POINTS is the difference between us being an undefeated ball club is what kills me,” Michigan defensive lineman Taco Charlton wrote Sunday on Twitter.
Freshman teammate Devin Bush Jr., a linebacker, said on Twitter that the Wolverines controlled their destiny.
“What we crying for? We didn’t do the things necessary to make it in the top 4 don’t blame it on the College football rankings,” Bush wrote.
The prime-time Orange Bowl will be the third meeting between Michigan and Florida State. It will be the first time the programs have faced each other since 1991 when Florida State beat Michigan, 51-31, in Ann Arbor.
The players and coach Jim Harbaugh said there’s absolutely no letdown even though they failed to make the playoff.
“I know I’m motivated and ready to put in the work and looking forward to it,” Harbaugh said during a second Orange Bowl conference call – he missed the first with FSU coach Jimbo Fisher because he was still flying home.
Butt said this will be a business trip for the Wolverines just as it was last year, the first under Harbaugh.
“It’s hard, it’s tough, but I’m really excited about this bowl game,” Butt said of moving past the Wolverines’ original hopes and goals. “I’m really excited to go to Miami and compete in a really big bowl game. This being my last game here at this university I’m excited.
“I know what this win could mean for us if we get the win. Playing a great team like Florida State, I’m really excited about that. I’m not really focusing on how hard it is or what could have been. I’m just focused on winning this game.”
While Michigan boasts one of the nation’s top defenses — defensive coordinator Don Brown has shaped the aggressive defense which is ranked No. 2, yielding an average 252.7 yards a game, and is No. 1 in passing allowed (135.9) and No. 2 in scoring (12.5).
Michigan’s run defense is ranked No. 13 and has allowed 116.8 yards a game. It will get a strong test from Florida State’s Dalvin Cook, who ranks No. 7 seven nationally averaging 135.0 yards a game. He has 1620 yards this season and 18 rushing touchdowns.
Seminoles quarterback Deondre Francois has completed 60.6 percent of his passes this season for 3,128 yards and has 18 touchdowns to six interceptions. He also has rushed for four touchdowns.
Tarvarus McFadden is FSU’s defensive standout. The cornerback has eight interceptions, ranking him No. 1 nationally.
"That’s a game I’d love to see,” former Texas coach Mack Brown, now an ESPN college analyst told The News on Sunday. “You look at the power running game at Michigan and the great defense of Don Brown and you look at Deondre Francois and Dalvin Cook, and it’s a fun matchup to me.”
Brown has worked Florida State games this year and said the Seminoles, who had a 37-34 loss to Clemson and a 37-35 loss to North Carolina, improved late in the season.
But Harbaugh, in year two, has impressed Brown.
“A little like Alabama, coach Harbaugh is building a team of great balance that can run and throw, and he made a great hire in Don Brown,” Brown said Sunday. “He made Boston College the No. 1 defense (last season), and it’s no surprise to me he did the same at Michigan.
“Just watching all the games the two years, Jim is much further ahead than I would have thought in two years. Honestly, they could be in this top four (playoff).”
And that’s what nose tackle Ryan Glasgow is hoping the Wolverines will show at the Orange Bowl.
“This game in Miami is going to be a statement game,” Glasgow said. “Want to leave this program on top and this is a step in the right direction. Want to make a statement game and show we’re one of the top four teams in college football.”
Michigan vs. Florida State
When: Friday, Dec. 30, 8 p.m.
Where: Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, Fla.
TV / radio: ESPN / WWJ 950, WTKA 1050
Records: Michigan 10-2, Florida State 9-3
Series: Tied 1-1
Tickets: Tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis. To order bowl tickets, visit MGoBlue.com/tickets or call the Michigan Athletic Ticket office at (866) 296-MTIX or 734-764-0247. Phone orders will be taken weekdays 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
ALL ABOUT FLORIDA STATE
Coach: Jimbo Fisher (seventh year, 77-17 at Florida State and overall)
Record: 9-3 (5-3 ACC)
Players to watch: Cornerback Tarvarus McFadden is first-team All-ACC and winner of the Jack Tatum Award as the nation’s top defensive back. He leads the country with eight interceptions. Defensive end DeMarcus Walker had 64 tackles, including 17.5 tackles for loss and 15 sacks. Dalvin Cook is the nation’s seventh-ranked running back. He has rushed for 1,620 yards on 268 attempts (135.0 average) and scored 18 touchdowns. Quarterback Deondre Francois has thrown for 3,128 yards, 18 touchdowns and had six interceptions. He has scored four rushing touchdowns.
Notable: FSU has a 9-2-1 record all-time against Big Ten schools and is 4-1-1 against the Big Ten in bowl games. FSU most recently beat Wisconsin at the Champs Bowl after the 2008 season. … Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh quarterbacked Michigan to a 20-18 win over FSU in 1986.
HOW THEY COMPARE
Michigan and Florida State in the national rankings:
Total offense: UM 47th (439.3), FSU 24th (474.3)
Rush offense: UM 30th (223.3), FSU 39th (206.8)
Pass offense: UM 82nd (216.1), FSU 29th (267.6)
Scoring offense: UM 12th (41.0), FSU 32nd (35.3)
Total defense: UM 2nd (252.7), FSU 29th (357.2)
Rush defense: UM 13th (116.8), FSU 27th (131.3)
Pass defense: UM 1st (135.9), FSU 65th (225.9)
Scoring defense: UM 2nd (12.5), FSU 43rd (24.4)
Third-down defense: UM 1st (.209), FSU 16th (.338)
Sacks: UM 2nd (3.67), FSU 1st (3.92)