ANN ARBOR, Mich. - To an outsider, the upcoming Peach Bowl matchup between No. 7 Michigan and No. 10 Florida is one of the best matchups of the bowl season.
But many Michigan and Florida fans are a bit frustrated. One of the main appeals of bowl games that aren't part of the College Football Playoff is they give teams a chance to match up with teams they wouldn't normally play.
This will be the third meeting between Michigan and Florida since Jim Harbaugh arrived in Ann Arbor four seasons ago. The teams met at the end of his first season in the 2016 Citrus Bowl and at the beginning of the 2017 season at AT&T Stadium in Dallas.
The third meeting will take place in Atlanta, where Michigan has very little to prove against the SEC East foe.
Michigan has completely dominated the two games against Florida, winning by a combined score of 74-24 and outgaining the Gators 936 yards to 465 yards.
Michigan and Florida had played twice before Harbaugh's arrival, with the Wolverines winning the 2003 Outback Bowl and the 2008 Capital One Bowl.
2016 Citrus Bowl
Michigan could have named its score in Harbaugh's first bowl game, even though it went up against the No. 8 total defense in the country.
Florida was coming off an SEC East Division title and conference championship game loss against Alabama. The Gators started the season 10-1 before dropping consecutive games to Florida State and Alabama.
Michigan was coming off a similar disappointing end to the season. It lost at home to Ohio State and saw its slim hopes at a conference title slip away. But it was the first season of Harbaugh's turnaround, and the Wolverines had an opportunity to win double-digit games for the first time since 2011.
The game was tied at the end of the first quarter, but Michigan took a 17-7 lead into halftime and never looked back. After 24 unanswered points in the second half, Michigan cruised to an impressive 41-7 victory.
Quarterback Jake Rudock was the hero for Michigan, completing 20 of 31 passes for 278 yards, three touchdowns and no turnovers.
De'Veon Smith ran the ball 25 times for 109 yards. Drake Johnson had 58 rushing yards, a rushing touchdown and a receiving touchdown.
Florida simply couldn't keep up with wide receiver Jehu Chesson, who torched a pro-laden secondary for 118 yards and a touchdown. Grant Perry also had five catches and a score.
Gators quarterback Treon Harris was completely shut down, completing just eight of 21 passes for 146 yards and a pick.
2017 opening game
About 20 months later, the two teams met again, this time as top-20 opponents at the start of a new season.
Michigan was ranked No. 11 and Florida was No. 17 as the teams faced off at AT&T Stadium in Dallas.
Despite dominating most of the half, Michigan went into the break trailing 17-13 due to back-to-back pick-sixes thrown by Wilton Speight. The Wolverines went from up 10-3 with the ball to down 17-10 in the course of 90 seconds.
But Michigan was the far better team, and that showed in the third quarter, as a Karan Higdon touchdown and a pair of Quinn Nordin field goals made it 26-17 Michigan. A Noah Furbush fumble recovery in the end zone iced the game in the fourth quarter.
It was considered an ugly win since Michigan threw two pick-sixes and missed a pair of field goals, but in reality, it was one of the best offensive efforts for Harbaugh's team all season. Florida had a solid defense that finished the year ranked No. 31 nationally, but Michigan managed to put up 433 yard and 33 points.
The Gators were held under 200 yards and converted just two of 13 third-down attempts. Florida ran the ball 27 times for a total of 11 yards.
Florida and Michigan are heading in similar directions despite some adversity. Michigan has continued to grow under Harbaugh and Florida hired a new coach in Dan Mullen.
The Gators ended up winning just three games in 2017 and firing Jim McElwain, who turned around and joined Harbaugh's staff in 2018. He recently accepted the head coaching job at Central Michigan.
Michigan didn't have a stellar 2017, either, losing five times -- its four biggest games of the season and the Outback Bowl.
Harbaugh took Michigan within one game of a Big Ten Championship Game appearance for the second time in three years, though it went up in flames at the hands of Ohio State. For the third time in four years, Michigan has won double digit games.
Mullen turned Florida into an SEC East contender again, but ran into a rocky stretch against Georgia and Missouri. The Gators lost those games by a combined score of 74-34. Their only other loss came to a Kentucky team that also won nine games.
Florida picked up impressive wins against now-No. 11 LSU and at now-No. 18 Mississippi State. It also got the satisfaction of officially ending rival Florida State's bowl streak, which had been the longest in the country.
The year's meeting should once again be a defensive battle, as Michigan owns the No. 1 total defense in the country and Florida owns the No. 27 total defense. Michigan allows 4.39 yards per play and Florida allows 5.14 yards per play.
Michigan will be without defensive lineman Rashan Gary, who will sit out ahead of the NFL draft. It's unclear if any of Michigan's other possible NFL prospects will sit out.
On offense, both teams are pretty efficient. Michigan averages 6.18 yards per play and Florida averages 6.20 yards per play.
Shea Patterson will be the better quarterback going into the Peach Bowl, completing 65.1 percent of his passes for 8.18 yards per attempt, 21 touchdowns and only five interceptions.
Feleipe Franks is a much improved player, too, completing 58.5 percent of his passes for 7.64 yards per play, 23 touchdowns and six picks. He threw for 75 yards against Michigan in 2017.
Florida's offense is paced by a pair of 700-yard rushers who had nearly identical seasons. Lamical Perine rushed for 750 yards on 128 carries while Jordan Scarlett rushed for 717 yards on 122 carries. Both average 5.9 yards per carry.
This is probably the most dangerous Florida team Michigan has seen under Harbaugh, but the Wolverines are at their best, too.
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