Michigan Football: Expect Wilton Speight to Breakout in Orange Bowl

Michigan football quarterback Wilton Speight has exceeded expectations this season. But in the Orange Bowl, he is going to raise them for the 2017 season.

If it wasn’t for a bad throw and a bad decision against Ohio State, Wilton Speight might have already written his Michigan football legacy.

Absent those two interceptions, Speight’s performance against the Buckeyes was outstanding. And had it led to victory, a Big Ten championship and a berth in the College Football Playoffs, the view of him would be different than it is.

Yet, those interceptions happened and in large part because of them Michigan is in the Orange Bowl.

The Wolverines had bigger aspirations. But still, beating Florida State and playing on the national stage is a big step.

Getting there however, isn’t enough. Michigan needs to win the Orange Bowl and to win, it will need a big game from Speight.

Now, this is just a hunch, but I think Michigan gets it.

With star players on offense and defense headed for the NFL, Michigan can become Speight’s team. But for that to happen, he needs to seize this opportunity. He needs to do exactly what he did against Ohio State, minus the turnovers.

In the game against Ohio State, he was stellar. His fourth-down touchdown in overtime was enormous. He showed guts and courage. He showed he is capable of making big plays in big games. .

In the end, his mistakes cost Michigan. And he will want to avoid a repeat performance against Florida State.

While much of the talk entering the game is centering around Michigan’s defense and whether or not it can stop Dalvin Cook, the key is Speight.

Florida State has a respectable pass defense, they rank in the top 60 in both pass yards allowed and pass efficiency defense. However, Michigan is loaded with weapons at receiver and tight end.

With Jehu Chesson, Amara Darboh and Jake Butt, along with youngsters like Eddie McDoom to throw to, Speight should have a big day.

The third-year player has tremendous potential and he is also taking this game very seriously.

“This bowl prep has, in my mind, been the start of my Year 2,” Speight said Tuesday during a media event before Friday’s Orange Bowl. “That’s where I really need to take the biggest leap.”

With some talented but young receivers, Michigan needs Speight to lead next season. And that starts with a strong performance Friday.

Speight also has a chance to lock down the starting job. With Brandon Peters looking good and Dylan McCaffrey coming in, you can see the importance of a good day.

All indications are that Speight is healthy and if he gets a healthy number of attempts, expect him and the Wolverines to shine.

If he does, Michigan football will get exactly what it needs out of the Orange Bowl — momentum and a star quarterback for 2017.

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