MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Florida State’s speed overwhelmed Michigan. And by the time the Wolverines made their adjustments, or at least found a way to keep up, the efforts weren’t enough.
No. 11 Florida State defeated No. 6 Michigan 33-32 in the Orange Bowl on Friday at Hard Rock Stadium. Michigan hadn’t seen a team or a player with the kind of speed and athleticism that Florida State wielded.
Running back Dalvin Cook dominated on offense for the Seminoles, while DeMarcus Walker and Florida State’s defensive line brought continuous pressure against Michigan.
Here are grades for Michigan (10-3) following its loss to Florida State (10-3):
Offense (2.5 stars)
Michigan’s offense in the first half was anemic, with only 80 yards, and went against a defense that sacked quarterback Wilton Speight four times and had 15 tackles for loss. Speight mustered only 60 yards passing in the first half but rebounded in the second half with 103 and a touchdown to fullback Khalid Hill.
What finally caught up with Michigan was the struggles of its offensive line and the inability to set a tempo on offense. Michigan finished with 89 rushing yards on 36 carries — a measly 2.5-yard per carry average, and Chris Evans led the Wolverines with 49 yards and a touchdown on eight carries.
Defense (3 stars)
Mike McCray’s pick-six in the final minutes of the third quarter was one of few redeeming factors for Michigan’s defense, which struggled to contain Florida State running back Dalvin Cook, who finished with a game-high 145 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries.
However, Michigan’s defensive line remained stout. Michigan rattled Florida State quarterback Deondre Francois, temporarily taking him out of the game on Taco Charlton’s first-quarter sack, and dizzying him again on Mo Hurst’s sack at the start of the fourth. The redshirt freshman and the Seminoles didn’t shake; Cook ran for 71 yards on the ensuing play after the hit and set up Francois’ 3-yard touchdown, which gave Florida State a 27-15 lead.
Special teams (2.5 stars)
Special teams played a role early, as Dymonte Thomas recovered a muffed punt to put the Wolverines at the Florida State 1 (and had to settle for a field goal), and Michigan kicker Kenny Allen went 3-for-3 on field goals, and forced Florida State to start four drives inside its own 20. However ,those may have been two of the only bright spots on special teams.
Michigan finished with minus-1 yards on punt returns and Jourdan Lewis, filling in for Jabrill Peppers (hamstring injury) on kickoff returns, had only two for 40 yards. Michigan’s kickoff coverage team, however, had the biggest letdown late in the fourth quarter, when Keith Gavin’s 66-yard return set up the game-winning drive for Florida State.
Coaching (3 stars)
This is where all the development is supposed to show — even against Florida State’s firepower. Without Peppers and with the loss of tight end Jake Butt (possible ACL/MCL injury) in the second half, the youngsters are supposed to rise to the occasion and show why they can fill in. Instead, Michigan’s understudies were overwhelmed early, and, again, had to play catch-up to at least keep pace with Florida State.
Furthermore, the decision to kick a field goal instead of going for a touchdown on Michigan’s second drive halted any momentum that the Wolverines could have immediately gained in the first quarter. Michigan chose to be conservative, and the early decision made a difference in what became a one-point game.
Overall (2.5 stars)
Instead of dominating from the start, as Michigan had done in so many games this season, Michigan found itself on its heels early and down by 14 points at halftime against Florida State.
Michigan erased a 12-point deficit and even took a 30-27 lead with less than two minutes left, but its furious attempt at a comeback wasn’t enough, as the Seminoles capitalized on late field position to score the game-winning touchdown with 36 seconds left.