Michigan vs. Florida State preview: Ground Cook
Angelique S. Chengelis breaks down Friday's Michigan-Florida State Orange Bowl game at Hard Rock Stadium (8, ESPN/WWJ).
Seminoles to watch
Dalvin Cook, RB: The 5-foot-11, 213-pound junior running back will probably be playing in his final college game and what a sendoff considering this is in his hometown (he attended Miami Central). Cook is considered by the Michigan players and coaches one of the most dangerous they’ve faced this season. Cook set FSU’s career rushing record with 4,319 yards and also has a school-record 45 rushing touchdowns.
Deondre Francois, QB: The redshirt freshman from Orlando is the only freshman quarterback in the country with 3,000 passing yards (3,128). He threw 18 touchdowns during the regular season and had six interceptions. He also ran for 189 yards and four touchdowns. He was a four-time ACC Rookie of the Week starting with his debut against then-No. 11 Ole Miss when he led the Seminoles in the program’s largest comeback. He threw for 419 yards in the 45-34 win after FSU trailed 28-6.
DeMarcus Walker, DE: Walker is a 6-4, 280-pound senior consensus All-American from Jacksonville was the ACC Defensive Player of the Year. He finished the season with 64 tackles, including 17.5 for loss and 15 sacks. Against rival Miami, he combined on a tackle for loss and blocked the extra point in the final minutes — the kick would have tied the game — but FSU preserved the 20-19 victory.
Confirming respect: The Michigan players believe they were among the top four teams in the country and should be playing in the College Football Playoff, but two losses in the final three games eliminated that possibility. With that in mind, the Wolverines feel they have something to prove to the nation and are taking that motivation into this game.
Final sendoff: Will it be Michigan’s do-everything Jabrill Peppers’ final game or won’t it? The best guess is that this will be his final game. Peppers was a Heisman Trophy finalist, the team’s MVP and the Big Ten’s Top Defensive Player and with him projected to go high in the NFL Draft, most expect him to be playing for the last time in a Michigan uniform. How much will that be a factor for him in this Orange Bowl? Time will tell.
The last time: Michigan and Florida State will be playing for the third time in history. They haven’t played since FSU visited Ann Arbor in 1991. The Seminoles won, 51-31. But that was a long time ago and as everyone knows it will have no effect on this game.
Heat? So? The Wolverines have practiced this week in the late afternoon to get acclimated to the south Florida heat and humidity. It has been in the mid-80s, but the Wolverines were preparing for this long before they left Ann Arbor. They practiced in Glick Fieldhouse with the heat cranked up. The Orange Bowl is Friday and the temperature is expected to be on the low side, 69 during the day and 58 at night, so the heat likely won’t be an issue.
Business trip: Michigan players have said all week being at the Orange Bowl hasn’t been about the beach and heading out and about to have fun. The Wolverines are looking for a rare 11-win season by beating Florida State and that means focusing on film study and practice. Harbaugh and his staff and many of the players will head back to Ann Arbor immediately after the game while many of the seniors plan to hang out for a day or two and finally have those beach days.
Facts and figures
■ 1 vs 2 – Florida State leads the nation in sacks with 47, while Michigan is No. 2 with 44. The Wolverines have averaged 3.67 sacks a game this year.
■ Jimbo has the edge – FSU coach Jimbo Fisher has been head coach seven seasons, all at FSU. He has a 77-17 record (.819) while Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh has coached nine college seasons, including two at Michigan. He’s 78-32 overall (.709).
■ No. 3 – This is the third time Michigan has played in the Orange Bowl. The Wolverines also played here in the 1976 and 2000 games.
■ The Big Three – Michigan has three first-team consensus All-Americans – Jake Butt, Jourdan Lewis and Jabrill Peppers.
■ Snap the streak – FSU is 4-2 in bowl games under Jimbo Fisher but have lost the last two. Michigan is 1-0 in bowl games under Jim Harbaugh.