Michigan is one of the few Big Ten favorites this bowl season, and surprisingly it’s against an SEC team. Unsurprisingly, it’s against a Florida team that hasn’t played a good Game in two months. Playing in the Citrus Bowl, the Gators are a lot closer proximity wise, but that shouldn’t be a huge factor as the Wolverines travel well. The Wolverines opened as a -4 point favorite at 5 Dimes Sportsbook.
Florida started the season great with a 6-0 record, but that quickly disappeared once quarterback Will Grier was suspended for the season. Treon Harris came in and they lost three Games the rest of the way, including a couple double-digit losses to close the season. OUtside of big wins against Ole Miss and Georgia, the Gators weren’t all that impressive. They struggled against East Carolina, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, South Carolina and even Florida Atlantic. That’s almost half their Schedule.
The same can’t be said about Michigan, who dismantled multiple opponents, including a stretch of three-straight shutouts early in the season. The Wolverines lost focus a bit after falling to Michigan State in the middle of the year, but they still managed close with wins at Minnesota and Indiana.
This Game will likely be low scoring and it’s hard to see this Florida offense scoring more than 20 points. Michigan did slip up in the second half of the year, but this is still an elite defense, while the Gators scored 26.5 points per Game.
Starting with quarterback Treon Harris, the Gators are not a threat to pass the ball. If Harris is forced to, it may not be a good result against one of the best secondaries in the country. Harris is completing just 51.9% of his passes on the year for 9 TDs and 5 INTs. As long as Michigan doesn’t jump to an early lead, running back Kelvin Taylor should see around 25 carries. The Wolverines have been giving up big Games to running backs, so that’s the one chance this offense has to succeed. Before the Alabama Game, Taylor ran for 100 yards in three straight Games.
Florida’s defense was its strong suit en route to 10 wins this year and it’ll be how they win this Game.
Michigan quarterback Jake Rudock has improved throughout the season, but he hasn’t really had a good Game against a good defense yet. Facing Rutgers and Indiana isn’t close to what he’ll see in the Gators. Still, Rudock is better than Harris and has able wide outs in Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson, who combined for 1,349 yards and 13 touchdowns. The problem with this offense is that they haven’t been as good running the ball as expected. Running back De’Veon Smith has just 644 yards and six touchdowns to lead the team.
Because of a weak ground Game, that should keep the Gators around. But on the other end of that, the Wolverines won nine Games this year, with eight of those coming by at least seven points and six of them by double digits. Once this team finds a weakness, they attack it and if Florida’s offense can’t run the ball, it will be trouble again for the Gators.
The Wolverines have only covered two of their last six Games, while the over has hit six straight times for them in Games on the turf. The Gators have covered in five straight neutral-site Games.
Our Pick – Both teams field a very good defense. However, the Gators offense leaves a lot to be desired. They rank 119th in rushing yards and 103rd in points scored. Not the kind of numbers you’d prefer when playing the 9th ranked defense in terms of points allowed.
When we use only the last 7 Games worth of data with Our model, we come up with a 7 point Wolverine win. That sounds about right to us. Michigan -4