Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl
University of Florida Gators (9-3) vs. University of Michigan Wolverines (10-2)
NCAA Football Saturday, December 29, 2018 at 12:00 pm ET (Mercedez-Benz Stadium)
Spread: Michigan -6.5 — Over/Under: 51
Free ESPN PICK NCAA Football Michigan Wolverines vs Florida Gators
The Peach bowl will ultimately come down to execution, according to co-offensive coordinator John Hevesy. This is a nothing new to the Gators who have clamped down and executed big plays on teams like Mississippi State in week 5. The highlight of that game was via a Florida Gator trick play. In the 3rd quarter of that game, tailback Kadarius Toney threw a 20 yard touchdown to receiver Moral Stephens. Just a week later against then ranked #5 LSU, they would go on to seal the deal late in the contest with an interception return for touchdown. But Florida’s also looked out of sorts like in the week 10 debacle from then unranked and .500 Missouri Tigers. That game was at home too. In the case of the former, their defense has looked impressive in these kind of situations. And their 20th ranked defense in terms of takeaways is going to need to step up in a few more areas where they’re not as strong in. They give up 166 yards per game on the ground–ranked 70th in this area. Upon a Michigan backfield that ranks 25th in rushing yards per game, they’ll need to show up and show out. Offensively, this team can be explosive and rivals Michigan on the ground and passing. Florida’s ranked 26th in rushing yards and 76th in passing yards. This could spell bad news for Michigan as two of their star defensive players are sitting out of the bowl game.
John Harbaugh will also have his guys ready despite losing three key athletes. The first piece to go down was linebacker Devin Bush. Bush left the teams’ previous game against Ohio State with a leg injury and will not see action Saturday afternoon. The two others are defensive tackle Rashan Gary, and tailback Karan Higdon who’ve both made their decision to skip the bowl in preparation for the NFL draft. The Gator defense will face a Wolverine offense that struggled at times with finishing drives (4.71; 60th). The Wolverines offense was based around a punishing running game with Karan Higdon and solid quarterback play from Ole Miss transfer Shea Patterson. Higdon will not be playing in the bowl game as he prepares for the NFL Draft, but Patterson will. And with Higdon out, the primary running game duties will fall to back up juniors Chris Evans and Tru Wilson (133 carries 758 yards 5 TDs combined). They key here for Michigan will be time of possession–a game plan coach Jim Harbough will most certainly have his team employ as he’s done his whole coaching career. Michigan is ranked fourth in TOP.
Florida is 7-3 ATS in its last 10 games
Florida is 8-2 SU in its last 10 games
The total has gone OVER in six of Florida’s last seven games. (Avg combined score: 58.86)
Florida is 3-8 ATS in its last 11 games as underdog.
8-1 ATS in its last nine games after consecutive ATS losses
1-4 SU in its last 5 bowl games
2-3 ATS in its last 5 bowl games
4-0 SU all-time versus Florida
Free ESPN PARLAY NCAA Football Michigan Wolverines vs Florida Gators
Florida was better against the spread this season, going 8-4 overall and 2-1 as an underdog while the Wolverines were 6-6 overall and as a favorite this season. This game is likely to be a defensive affair, and the absence of Higdon at running back is concerning for the Wolverines. Still, they’re my pick to win. I base that on an advantage given to Michigan in terms of experience in bowl games. I’ll also factor in Patterson’s experience competing against Florida coach Dan Mullen. Last year, Patterson’s Ole Miss team lost to Mullen’s Mississippi State Bulldog’s, although Patterson is a different quarterback with a different look this time out. I still think the Gators keep it closer than each of the last two meetings between these teams. I’l predict the outcome to come down to the final drive. Florida gets a red zone shot, but comes up short, 28-20.
PICK: UNDER 51.5