Michigan football to play Florida State in 2016 Orange Bowl

Orange Bowl kicks off at 8 p.m. Dec. 30 in Miami


The No. 6 Michigan Wolverines will travel to Miami on Dec. 30 to battle the No. 11 Florida State Seminoles in the Capitol One Orange Bowl.

Michigan finished the regular season with a 10-2 record and is ranked No. 5 in the final College Football Playoff rankings. The Wolverines knocked off three top-10 teams with wins over Colorado, Wisconsin and Penn State early in the season.

But two late losses ultimately held Michigan out of the playoffs -- a 14-13 loss to Iowa and a 30-27 loss to Ohio State in double overtime. Michigan finished in third place in the Big Ten East Division with a 7-2 conference record.

Florida State finished strong after a shaky start to the regular season. The Seminoles got crushed by 43 points in a Week-3 trip to Louisville, and then dropped home games to North Carolina and Clemson. But Florida State knocked off N.C. State, Boston College, Syracuse and No. 15 Florida to finish the year with nine wins.


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Michigan won its first bowl game under Jim Harbaugh last year, dominating the Florida Gators, 41-7, in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl.

The Wolverines last played in the Orange Bowl in 1999, knocking off then-No. 5 Alabama, 35-34. Michigan's only other Orange Bowl appearance came in 1975, when it lost to then-No. 3 Oklahoma, 14-6.

Florida State has lost its last two bowl games since winning the BCS National Championship Game in 2013. The Seminoles lost to Oregon in college football semifinals in 2014 and fell to Houston in last year's Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.

Before those losses, Florida State had won six straight bowl games dating back to 2008.

The Seminoles have played in nine Orange Bowls, going 4-5 with wins over Nebraska (1992 and 1993), Notre Dame (1995) and Northern Illinois (2012), and losses to Oklahoma (1979, 1980 and 200), Miami (2003) and Penn State (2005).

Michigan and Florida State have never met in the postseason, but they have squared off twice during their storied histories, both in Ann Arbor.

No. 5 Michigan won the first ever meeting on Sept. 27, 1986, topping then-No. 20 Florida State, 20-18, under legendary head coach Bo Schembechler. No. 1 Florida State took the most recent meeting on Sept. 28, 1991, blowing out then-No. 3 Michigan, 51-31, to hand the Wolverines their only loss of the regular season.

The 2016 Florida State team is led by star running back Dalvin Cook, who rushed for 1,620 yards and 18 touchdowns on 268 carries. He ranks sixth in the country in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns.


Cook is one of the best offensive players in the country and finished seventh in Heisman Trophy voting last season. To put that in perspective, Cook finished ahead of Ezekiel Elliott by 22 points.

If Cook declares for the NFL Draft after the season, he'll end his college career against one of the best rush defenses he's ever seen. Michigan ranks sixth in the nation, allowing just 3.1 yards per rushing attempt. In three games against top-10 rushing defenses (Boston College, Louisville and N.C. State) this season, Cook carried the ball 52 times for 227 yards and two touchdowns.

In his last three games, Cook ran for 486 yards and six touchdowns on 72 carries.

The other offensive star for Florida State is redshirt freshman quarterback Deondre Francois, who enjoyed a strong first season as a starter.

Francois played above his age this season, throwing 18 touchdown passes and only six interceptions. He completed over 60 percent of his passes for 3,128 yards and also ran for 189 yards and four touchdowns.

The freshman will have to be equally efficient against a Michigan defense that's built to give opposing quarterbacks nightmares. The Wolverines rank fourth in the country with 44 sacks this season, and field a talented and veteran secondary behind cornerbacks Jourdan Lewis and Channing Stribling.

Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight will face a similar challenge against a Florida State defense that leads the country with 47 sacks. DeMarcus Walker is perhaps the most feared defensive end in college football, racking up 15 sacks during the regular season. His counterpart, Brian Burns, picked up 10 sacks from the other end. Michigan's offensive linemen will have their work cut out for them.

The constant pressure in the backfield has allowed Florida State defensive back Tarvarus McFadden to snag a country-leading eight interceptions this season. McFadden is only a sophomore, but he had an interception in eight of his team's 12 games this season, including one each against Heisman hopefuls Lamar Jackson and DeShaun Watson.

Points will be at a premium for the Wolverines against a loaded Florida State defense, so Michigan will need to step up on the other side of the ball.

Michigan owns the second best defense in the country, allowing just 12.5 points and 253 yards per game -- both right behind Alabama. Its elite pass defense (135.9 passing yards allowed per game) is what makes Don Brown's crew so special, but it'll be the 13th-ranked rushing defense that gets tested against Cook and company.

Florida State will be a huge test for Michigan as it tries to finish the season in the top five and send over 40 seniors out with a win. Harbaugh has Michigan trending in the right direction, and picking up win No. 11 in year two would be another accomplishment.