MIAMI SHORES, Fla. — Michigan officially kicked off its bowl week in South Florida with practice Monday at Barry University, exactly one month since its last game, a 30-27 double-overtime loss to No. 3 Ohio State in Columbus on Nov. 26.
No. 6 Michigan (10-2) is all business after the loss to Ohio State as it will follow a regimented schedule in preparation for the Orange Bowl. Michigan faces No. 11 Florida State (9-3) at 8 p.m. ET Friday (ESPN) in the Orange Bowl at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla.
Here are five keys for Michigan, which faces Florida State for the first time since 1991.
Protect Speight — and his left shoulder
Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight withstood Ohio State and finished with 219 yards passing despite a shoulder injury. He has had a month off since the double-overtime loss in Columbus, but even he won’t reveal the extent of his injury. Speight, however, practiced Monday. Florida State has one of the nation’s leaders in sacks in DeMarcus Walker (15/1.25 per game) but its pass defense was eighth in the ACC, allowing 225.9 yards a game.
Contain RB Dalvin Cook
Cook is Florida State’s top rusher, with 1,620 yards, and the No. 8 rusher in the nation. Michigan has contained some of the Big Ten Conference’s top running backs, and Cook also has to face the Big Ten’s No. 2 rushing defense and the nation’s No. 2 defense (252.7 yards). However, Michigan’s front seven, particularly its linebackers, got thrashed in its final three games, giving up 434 rushing yards (144.7 yards per game).
Don’t be daunted by the atmosphere on the field
It’s one thing to play in Michigan Stadium, a massive 110,000-capacity stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich. It’s another to play a holiday-season bowl game in a party-type atmosphere — including a halftime show by Top-40 act DNCE — in an NFL stadium. Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla., is the first NFL stadium Michigan has played in since the Outback Bowl in January 2013 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla.
Don’t get daunted by the atmosphere off the field
It’s easy to unwind a little in the warmth of South Florida — enjoy the 80-degree December weather and loosen up a little bit, blow off some steam after finals and the holidays — but Michigan also has to maintain its intensity as it prepares for one of the nation’s traditional powers in Florida State.
Stay out of trouble
On the field, penalties hurt Michigan in the final month of the regular season. Michigan got called for 17 infractions for 147 yards in its final three regular-season games, including seven at Ohio State, and a pass-interference call against safety Delano Hill late in the fourth quarter that helped set up Ohio State’s game-tying drive. Off the field, Michigan has already lost one of its receivers, Grant Perry, who was suspended following his arraignment last week on four charges related to an alleged sexual assault. Michigan sticks to a structured schedule during bowls for that reason — to keep players out of trouble off the field.