I'm going to break this post game into two sections. First, I will deal with the what we saw and bowl games as a whole, second I will give you a trip report from my Orange Bowl experience.
Michigan was in trouble during warm-ups when it was clear Peppers was out for the game. I don't care how good a team you are, if you remove your best player. It's going to cost you. It hurt Michigan dearly in this game.
In the Iowa and OSU losses this year, I questioned if Michigan was the better team and just played poorly. I can't use that excuse any longer as the Wolverines completely whiffed on the first half of the Orange Bowl. I wasn't sure what team I was watching, the offense couldn't gain a yard and the defense was giving up big plays left and right. Dalvin Cook was the best player on the field and he continued to prove it on almost every offensive snap FSU had.
Florida State was the better team and they are not that good. The Wolverines offense right now are not good enough to win big games. The offensive line has a number of issues and with each loss this year Wilton's lack of play making cost them 3 wins. If Michigan could get one TD in the first half this would have been a different game. The gift on the one yard line, ended up with Michigan going backwards, with Wilton missing a wide open Chesson for an easy TD. If Wilton threw another 2 yard slant to Darboh on 3rd and 5, I thought I was going to lose my mind.
The play calling seemed more like Iowa and IU then it did against Ohio State. I think Jimmy is one of the best college football coaches, but I was not impressed how the Wolverines game planned on offense. The other decision I didn't like was going for 2 on the first TD. I know the two point conversion would bring FSU's lead to 3, but I thought it was too early in the second half to do that. That extra point ended up being a big deal in the final score.
My most positive take-away from the game was that Michigan showed heart in the second half and finally started to play some Michigan Football. My entire experience yesterday, got me thinking more and more about Bowl Games and the quality of play. In the first half, Michigan looked like it didn't want to be there, I don't know if it was poor preparation, over preparation, rust, or a hang over from the loss of Peppers, but the Wolverines were not the same team coming out of the tunnel.
Even if Michigan had completed the comeback, I was going to write what poor football I witnessed from both teams. That 1st quarter seemed to go on forever. Michigan gave up a couple of big plays on defense all season and they gave up 5 or 6 last night? What is that about? Yes, FSU has talent but those plays were blown coverages, poor tackling or both. FSU on the other had thought it was their job to keep Michigan in the game. They fumble on the 1 yard line and Deondre Francois throws a pick 6 on the 5 yard line for Michigan's first TD.
I'm also sick over what happened to Jake Butt. I hear he has an insurance policy, but this injury if it's serious will cost him spots in the NFL draft. Watching that first half, with Peppers out and then Jake Butt goes down with a serious knee injury, you start to wonder if playing these games is even worth it. Both teams were clearly rusty and the level of football was pretty poor. I'm now firmly in the camp to expand the playoffs and get rid of these games. I loved Bowl Games growing up, but now they just seem these games are for Alumni or Boosters. I love having 3 games on TV during the holidays, but the level of football after a month off is just not very good.
Here are my take-a-ways for next year:
- Michigan needs an open QB competition for the starting role, Wilton needs to be better in big games. Even when Wilton had time last night, he was not throwing the ball away or throwing the ball accurately.
- Michigan needs more talent on the offensive line. The way they preformed against Iowa, OSU and FSU was not good enough.
- Michigan needs a dynamic playmaker on offense. Maybe it is Chris Evans.
- Jimmy should never schedule night games, I don't know if its the long day before a game, but Michigan rarely plays well in Primetime.
- I thought #14 Josh Metullus played as best he could replacing Peppers. (on a side note the stadium announcer continued to say "Drake Harris on the tackle" when mentioning Metullus. Alex Malzone also made a tackle, which was clearly #10 Devin Bush)
Game Day at The Hard Rock Stadium:
I was a bit frustrated at the cost of the tickets for this game. Being in the lower bowl was going to cost you $250 (even in the end zone). I think it's crazy to pay $1000 to watch a football game live. Maybe if its a playoff game or National Championship, but that is crazy for the Orange Bowl. I saw prices on stubhub and eBay that is was cheaper to attend the playoff games. I purchased $120 tickets for me and the family and we were in the 3rd deck as high as you can be.
The stadium is fine, its a football stadium and pretty much what you would expect, they have a lot of different food choices. Capital One did a nice job with their Fan Fest area before the game, lots of games to play, a live band, etc. Traffic prior to the game and parking was a bit of an issue. Our hotel was 22 miles away and it took us over an hour to get to the stadium. We left the hotel 3 hours before kickoff. Parking was $40. They did have a free parking area, quite away from the stadium.
The weather was cold. Yes, I know there is a difference between Michigan cold and Florida cold, but this was very Florida cold. We were in the third deck and the wind was whipping right through the upper deck. It felt like it was in the low 40's with the wind. With the cold temperatures, Michigan playing like it did for 3 quarters, it was hard to stay, but I'm glad we did. We got back to the hotel about 12:45AM.
I don't know if I would have felt different if Michigan had won, but that day seemed long, cold, frustrating, and expensive to watch that level of football.