Florida averages 427 yards per game for the season, which puts them in 44th place in college football. The Gators average 34.5 points per game, which ranks 32nd in the country. In their three losses this season, Florida averaged just 16.67 points per game, making it easy to tell pretty early on whether or not they have what it takes to get a win.
The passing game has been Florida’s biggest weakness this season, with the Gators averaging a 77th ranked 217.2 yards per game through the air. Feleipe Franks completed under 60% of his passes on the season, and averaged under 200 yards passing per game. Against arguably the best defense in the country, he’ll need to step up.
On a more positive note, Florida’s 209.5 yards per game on the ground ranks 27th in the country. Michigan’s offense isn’t one you need to play keep-away from, but wearing down the Michigan defense with long, run-heavy drives might be the only way to be truly effective against them.
On defense, the Gators allow 339 yards per game. That puts them in 26th in the sport heading into the Peach Bowl. Allowing 20.4 points per game this season has put Florida in 21st in scoring defense for the year. Somehow Michigan’s great defense makes Florida’s D look average, but in this battle of two of the coolest nicknames in college sports, there are no bad defenses.
Pass defense might be the best facet of Florida’s game, as they give up a ninth ranked 173.1 yards per game through the air. Against the run, Florida gives up 166 yards per game, putting them in a tie with Rice for 69th in the country. Outside of a three-game streak of allowing 30 or more points, the Gators haven’t given up more than 27 over the rest of the season.
From a motivational perspective, Florida might be in a better place than Michigan, as they have a chance to win a New Year’s Six game despite losing thrice on the season.
Michigan Wolverines Peach Bowl Analysis
Michigan is known for its defense, but they also average 427 yards per game on offense, which ranks 42nd in the country. The Wolverines average 36.8 points per game, which puts them in 20th in scoring nationally. Milk and khaki enthusiast Jim Harbaugh has run an efficient offense this season, which is underrated thanks to an elite defense.
The passing game for Jim Harbaugh’s team ranks 83rd in FBS, with 212.9 yards per game to their name this year. Shea Patterson has been fine this season, but you get the feeling that he wasn’t fully trusted after his bad day against Notre Dame to start the season. Michigan’s offense is at its best when it’s running the ball, and the Wolverines rank 25th in the country with 214.3 yards per game on the ground.
There isn’t a more restrictive defense in college football than Michigan’s, as they give up a number one ranked 263 yards per game. But their scoring defense lags behind their yardage stats, as Michigan gives up 17.6 points per game, good for 12th in the country. Franks for Florida isn’t a great quarterback as it is, and should struggle against the Wolverines here.
Against the pass, only Miami is better, with Michigan’s 145.9 yards per game allowed through the air ranking second in the country. And against the run, Michigan’s 116.6 yards per game allowed put them in 17th place in college football.
Michigan are going to be without defensive stars Rashan Gary and Devin Bush, both of whom are looking to protect their professional interests, while head coach Jim Harbaugh is being linked to the New York Jets. Michigan may be the better team here, but their heads might be anywhere but this football game.
Florida vs Michigan Trends
Florida went 9-3 straight up this season, and 8-4 against the spread, as they played largely to expectations this year. The Gators have covered the spread in each of their last four non-conference games, and they are 6-2 against the spread over their last eight bowl games. In their last 10 total contests, the Gators have gone 7-3 against the spread, doing a nice job for the most part as they ran the SEC gauntlet.
Michigan, meanwhile, went 10-2 straight up for the season and 6-6 against the spread. Michigan had a disappointing end to their regular season, but they did go 4-1 against the spread in their last five games against teams with winning records. The one loss in those five games was their last game, as they were blown out by Ohio State, the only other Big Ten team to qualify for a New Year’s Six bowl game.
College football bowl season is often about picking spots more than it is about which team has matchup advantages, and this game is no exception. Michigan is better than Florida in so many areas of the game, but they lack the motivation to play this game at their best. They will be missing players, while Florida should have everyone at their disposal. And with Jim Harbaugh failing to win a big game in his Michigan coaching career to this point, laying nearly a touchdown with the extra point with the Wolverines is too dangerous.