The Michigan football team will take on Florida State in the Orange Bowl this week. Here is a chance to get to know the Seminoles.
Michigan football will meet Florida State in Miami for the Orange Bowl on Friday night to cap a season that will probably be remembered as this close to being extraordinary.
Nevertheless, the team is a hearty 10-2 with wins over three of the top ten teams in the country and the matchup with FSU is going to be the last chance to see guys like Jourdan Lewis, Ryan Glasgow, De’Veon Smith, and Jabrill Peppers (among a lot of others) in a Michigan football uniform.
It may not be the game we were all hoping for, but it’s hard to imagine that the team doesn’t come out with its hair on fire, ready to make a statement. Michigan is 1-1 all time against the Seminoles, the lone win coming in 1986 with Jim Harbaugh at quarterback.
FSU finished 9-3 in an up and down year in the ACC. They staged an epic comeback in their opener against a Mississippi team that people thought was a top ten team, which, no. Then they rolled Charleston Southern before getting absolutely waxed by a red hot Louisville team.
The 63-20 almost doesn’t do the extent of that beatdown justice. And FSU was the number two team in the country! They clearly weren’t prepared to stop Lamar Jackson, as the eventual Heisman winner accounted for five touchdowns before getting subbed out.
The other notable game was their loss to Clemson at home. The Seminoles went into the fourth quarter with an eight point lead, but ended up losing 37-34. Deshaun Watson went for 430 total yards and two touchdowns against what is pretty clearly a shaky secondary. Dalvin Cook only got 19 carries but racked up 160 yards and four (!) touchdowns.
It was fair to assume after the loss to Louisville that Florida State couldn’t hang with top tier teams, but the Clemson game demonstrated that they at least belong on the field with anyone in the country. Deondre Francois didn’t have a great game, but he kept things moving well enough to justify getting the ball to Cook and Cook did Dalvin Cook things once he got it.
FSU then survived a trap game at NC State the following week and coasted to the finish line to bring them to 9-3 and the Orange Bowl.
This is a very Florida State-ish team. They have had games where they look competent and talented, games where they look like a mid level JUCO team, games where they look completely disinterested, and games that just devolve into chaos. After all that they still wound up in the eleven slot in the playoff rankings, mainly thanks to a wildly talented roster and Dalvin Cook.
Cook racked up 1620 yards at an even six per carry and 18 touchdowns on the ground and is FSU’s second leading receiver. With that kind of production, you can understand why the Seminoles finished sixth in offensive S&P+ despite a rickety offensive line and a freshman quarterback.
The entire offense Randy Sanders has designed in Tallahassee is rooted in getting Cook the ball one way or another. Luckily, he’s proven himself up to the task; he can kind of just do everything well. Obviously he’s a great runner with speed and vision to go along with his burly frame, but he’s also a good receiver out of the backfield and even sometimes in the slot and he has no problem picking up blitzing secondary players.
Cook is the best back–and possibly best player–Michigan has faced this season, so get ready to hear his name a lot on Friday.
The offense has a few weapons other than Cook as well. Quarterback Deondre Francois has thrown 18 touchdowns and only four interceptions at a healthy 8.3 yards per attempt. He’s also quick out of the backfield when he wants to be, which might be a problem given the fact that Peppers is going to already have his hands full with Cook.
The good news is that Michigan football is healthy again on offense and should be able to put up some points against the banged up Florida State defense. They’re 18th in the S&P+ rankings largely thanks to dominating inferior opponents; they gave up a ton of points to the good offenses they played: 63 to Louisville, 37 to UNC, and 37 to Clemson.
Given what we saw against Florida last year, it’s pretty clear that giving Jim Harbaugh over a month of practices between games is dangerous, so Wilton Speight and company should come out guns blazing against an injured, relatively sloppy defense. Dalvin Cook can’t play linebacker.