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Game Day – December 29, 2018 Peach Bowl – Michigan vs Florida Football Game

Posted on December 28, 2018 by Barry Gallagher

Today is the fifth edition in the Michigan vs Florida football series.  In fact, it is the third game between the two teams since January 2016. Today’s contest will be the first game that Michigan has ever played on the twenty-ninth day of December. It is also the first time that Michigan has ever played in the Peach Bowl and the first time they have played in the great state of Georgia. Yes, there will be many firsts in this game today.

As expected, I will follow my normal format for looking at today’s game. First, I will look at how Michigan’s record in games/bowl games in December. Then, I will take a closer look at the short history of Michigan vs Florida football. Both teams have long histories and tons of tradition. They just haven’t played a lot of games against each other. So. it’s time to take a closer look at today’s game.

(Note-The 2003 Michigan Football team was the first Michigan to play Florida and start a winning streak that has reached four games against the Gators. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library at The University of Michigan.)

A Short History of December Bowl Games

The Michigan Wolverines have played eight bowl games in the month of December and the results have not been good! So far, Michigan’s post-season record in December is 2 wins and 6 losses. That works out to a “winning” percentage of only twenty-five percent (.250).

History is not on the side of the Maize and Blue today, that’s for sure! Here is a little more information about Michigan’s bowl games in December.

  • Michigan’s first December bowl game took place on December 28, 1979. The Wolverines met North Carolina in the Gator Bowl and Tar heels defeated the Wolverines by a score of 15-17.
  • Michigan’s first win in a December bowl game came against UCLA in the Bluebonnet Bowl. The Wolverines whacked the Bruins 33-14 in that one!
  • Michigan lost their last December bowl game to Florida State in the 2016 Orange Bowl 32-33. Ouch, that one hurt!
Butch Woolfolk Michigan Football 1981 | gobluefootballhistory.com

Butch Woolfolk scored a touchdown and rushed for 186-yards in Michigan’s first ever December bowl win (33-14)over UCLA in 1981. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library at The University of Michigan.

Of course, history doesn’t always predict the future. The Wolverines have a chance today to add  another “good” chapter to their December bowl story.

Michigan vs Florida Football Series History:

Today’s game is the fifth game in this relatively short gridiron series. The Gators have yet to beat Michigan. The Wolverines own a perfect record over the Gators so far since they have 4 wins and 0 losses. All of the matchups against these two rivals have been in bowl games except a season opening game in Dallas in Arlington, Texas in 2017. Michigan won that game by a score of 33-17.

Here’s how the Michigan vs Florida football series has gone in three bowl games so far:

Date Bowl Winner Score
January 1, 2003 Outback Michigan 38-30
January 1, 2008 Capital One Michigan 41-35
January 1, 2016 Citrus Bowl Michigan 41-7
Chris Perry Michigan Football 2003 | gobluefootballhistory.com

Chris Perry scored 4 touchdowns in Michigan’s first ever game against Florida in the Outback Bowl in 2003. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library at The University of Michigan.

If you look at the numbers above, the Wolverines have won the first three Michigan vs Florida football bowl games by an average score of 40-24. I don’t think there will be that much scoring, but the point differential should be close.

No doubt about it, Michigan is looking to extend their winning streak to five games today. Coach Jim Harbaugh and his Michigan Wolverines are trying to end the 2018 football season on a high note. A win today will give Coach Jim Harbaugh his first 11-win season at Michigan.

Michigan vs Florida Football Today.

On paper, Michigan is a solid favorite to win this game. However, the unavailability of some key players (Rashan Gary, Devin Bush, Karan Higdon, and Juwann Bushell-Beatty) makes this game much more interesting. Michigan opened as a 7.5 point favorite on December 2nd, but it’s down to 6.0 points as I write this article. If Michigan does post a win in this game, it will be a tribute to the depth and talent of Michigan’s roster.

Michigan has the better record (10 wins and 2 losses), but Florida overachieved under first-year coach Dan Mullen with a final record of 9 wins and 3 losses. Michigan and Florida have posted very similar numbers on offense and defense, but the Wolverines have the edge.

Michigan’s defense, as usual, is the key to the game. Florida will have trouble scoring against the Wolverines as long as the defense can control the crossing routes! I think that Shea Patterson will have his best game of the season. Chris Evans will run for over one-hundred yards, but our talented wide receivers will make the biggest plays.

Yes, Team #139“underachieved” in the hearts and minds of many Michigan fans. However, I think that any team that posts ten wins should be celebrated. Coach Harbaugh’s Wolverines made a lot of progress this season. Of course, nothing will take away the sting of losing to Notre Dame and getting blown out by the Buckeyes. However, we will have to wait until next year before the Wolverines can avenge those defeats. But, enough of that! Time to focus on beating Florida.

My Prediction – Michigan vs Florida Football, December 29, 2018

A victory over the Gators today will send the seniors off with their heads held high! It will also serve as a great launching pad for the 2019 football season. A win today coupled with the best recruiting class in the Big Ten this year will position the Wolverines for greater things down the road. Michigan is the better team today. I think the Wolverines beat the spread and the Gators. Final score: Michigan 34, Florida 17. Go Blue!

http://bentley.umich.edu/athdept/football/bowls/index.html

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