The 6th ranked Wolverines laid aside the disappointments that a bittersweet regular season afforded, and attempted to build on the many pluses the season revealed for their battle with the Florida State Seminoles, only to be handed another heartbreaking last seconds loss, replete with a controversial no call on an off sides call on M’s last possession. An irritating call, this time the game did not swing on it.
The pregame ended with the stunning announcement that Jabrill Peppers would not play because of a hamstring tweaked Thursday. This hurt the Wolverine cause on several levels. It was too late to plan around his absence. He was very much missed on special teams, as well as offense and defense.
FSU hyper talented star running back Delvin Cook prospered in his absence as he broke a couple of long runs. He rushed 20 times for 145-yards and a TD. He produced 207-yards, and was definitely the player of the game.
Kenny Allen provided the only field position advantage on special teams. He was simply outstanding. He hit three FGs. And his punting was outstanding. One long punt was dropped by the FSY receiver near the goal line, but M had to settle for three.
Peppers was missed in the pass rush, and as an on field leader, and he was also missed in trying to corral the hyper fast Cook. Cook often cooked M’s defensive intentions. He rendered Michigan’s defense mostly ineffective at times in the first and second quarters putting up 20 points to the Wolverines 9 in the first half, The Wolverines played a terrible 1st half offensively, and defensively, scoring no TDs and yielding big plays. They were inside the ten on three occasions and came away with three field goals, while FSU piled up 20 points in the half. M could not stop the spectacular running of FSU’s Cook, or the pass rush of Florida States Defensive line, until adjustments were made at the half, and they utilized quick short passes over the middle. I very much doubted that a blow-out was not in progress as it was 20 to 6 at the half.
They faced a very good Florida State Football team in this prestigious Capital One Orange Bowl played at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Lakes, Florida.
THE LAST GAME OF THE SEASON DID NOT GET ANY EASIER FOR THE WOLVERINES. Ranked 10th in the country, and coached by the colorful and successful Jimbo Fisher, it seemed the Seminoles presented just the ticket to take the Wolverine’s mind off their two critical regular season losses that prevented them from achieving their goals of a shot at the Big Ten Championship, and a spot in the final four. Instead it added a third loss.
They were as disappointed, if not more so, than the fans, by those earlier losses, and probably this one. Many players thought post TOSU that they (Michigan) were among the best four teams in the country. While they had not proved it in late season’s action, the thought endured, and still seemed to be somewhat reasonable, but lessened by their stumble against the Seminoles.
THE LAST HALF: The Wolverines struggled mightily in the first half offensively and defensively, managing only 6 points, while the Seminoles held 20. But they received the second half KO, having deferred. When the drive stalled Kenny Allen supplied his third FG. It was now 9 to 20.
The Wolverines offense was somewhat now revitalized as they loaded their tight ends Bunting, Asiasi, and Wheatley, and gathered a few first downs. Jake Butt had been injured earlier, and was out for the game, but he chugged off under his own power.
TE Bunting caught a couple for 30-yards. With little time left in the quarter, the Wolverines made themselves a break. The defense brought pressure and FSU finally cracked as Mike McCray nabbed a Seminole pass and returned it 14-yards for the TD, diving on a very athletic play into the endzone on a very athletic play and the chase was on. 9 to 20 became 15 to 20. A two point conversion was missed. The defense was now alive and well after yielding 201-yards of offense in the first quarter, FSU managed only 69-yards from scrimmage in the second half.
The big play bugaboo bird kept pecking as Dalvin Cook faced a 3rd and 22, and conquered it by slipping a tackle and speeding 71-yards to the M 13. FSU QB Francois ran a keeper into the end zone and it was 15-27. Now it seemed to be over for the Wolverines.
Now it with a under eight minutes in the fourth, and the Seminoles gave a gift to the Wolverines, hitting a crouching Jordan Lewis with a very dangerous blow to the head. After the penalty, Speight hit Khalid Hill with a laser, and Hill broke the plane for the Wolverine’s first TD. With 5:22 left, it was 22-27.
After a three an out the Wolverines possessed the ball at their 39. Speight saw open field and took off running 27-yards to the FSU . Chris Evans than made the best Wolverines run of the day. His 30-yard run went for 6, and the first Wolverine lead. A Darboh slant for two made it 30-27 with just 1.57 to play.
Next another bite from the big play bugaboo wounded the Wolverine’s chances as FSU’s Gavin returned the ensuing KO 66-yards to the M 34 with 1:29 left. Kenny Allen had been putting KO’s deep enough to prevent treturns, but not this time. A completed screen took it to the 13. A fade into the end zone was completed for six. The Wolverines were again down, this time 30-33. There were just 36 seconds left to tick on the clock. M’s Josh Metellus collared the bouncing ball after the blocked extra point try and hauled it into the Seminoles end zone at the opposite end of the field for two. The final outcome was set at M-32, FSU-33.
THIS COMEBACK WAS WORTH NOTE: This was a Michigan team that had trouble playing its best football for a full game against better opponents this season and this one was no exception. The recovery of the defense and offense in the second half were tributes both to the player’s grit and determination, but to the ingenuity of the half time coaching adjustment.
They didn’t quit, but fought back. The offensive cold spells, and offensive line inability to protect a passer or provide a consistent running game, and the inexplicable characteristic of an otherwise hard hitting and effective defense to give up big plays at critical times was all part and parcel of this team.
Now a part of Michigan Football History, it is time to move on. Even if these things kept this team from progressing and accomplishing as much as we and they wanted them to. They were good team, just not as great as they wanted to be. It has been an exciting season of which players and fans can be proud. The brass ring will come around again. They are a rising team and program.
Now this team and season are a part of Michigan Football History. We will all move on. Even if these things kept them from progressing as a team from good to as great as they wanted to, it was an exciting season of which fans and players can be proud. The brass ring will come around again. They continue to be a rising team and program.
Happy New Year to you, and yours, on every level.