WHO: No. 11 Florida State (9-3) vs. No. 6 Michigan (10-2)
WHAT: The 83rd Orange Bowl
WHEN: Friday, December 30, 8 p.m. ET on ESPN
WHERE: Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, Florida
THE SKINNY: At the beginning of the season, it would have surprised nobody to see the Wolverines and Seminoles meeting in a New Year’s Six bowl. That they’re facing off in the Orange Bowl and not a national semifinal is the mildly startling thing about this postseason matchup after both squads were considered trendy national title picks at the beginning of the year.
Michigan and swashbuckling head coach Jim Harbaugh are in South Florida nearly came close to getting into the playoff but a pair of last second (and overtime) losses kept them out of the Big Ten title game. Instead the team will be looking to cap off another banner year in Ann Arbor under their former quarterback, who actually beat Florida State back in 1986 when he was calling shots from under center. Leading the way this season has been do-everything Heisman finalist Jabrill Peppers, who could be playing his final game in maize and blue and should be featured on both sides of the ball on Friday night.
Standing in the Big Ten powerhouse’s way is a familiar site for those in South Florida. The Seminoles rose all the way up to No. 2 in the country early on but a young team was done in by mistakes during surprising losses to Louisville, North Carolina and Clemson. FSU has bounced back however, and closed strong down the stretch to wind up in the Orange Bowl thanks to their studs on either side of the ball in tailback Dalvin Cook and defensive end Demarcus Walker. Both veterans have contributed to a talented team that has reloaded once again and has a dangerous offense full of game-breaking playmakers like Travis Rudolph and Kermit Whitfield.
It should make for one of the better bowl matchups this season and doubly so with more attention on the game thanks to its shift to Friday night. This is a fun matchup of strength vs. strength as the Florida State offense is one of the best around and Michigan’s defense is the stingiest this side of Alabama. Each coaching staff figures to have a few tricks up their sleeves for this game but in the end, the Wolverines’ defense and ground game help propel them to a close victory over the Seminoles.
THE PICK: Michigan 27, Florida State 24
The Miami Beach Bowl was an unnecessary bowl game played in a metro area already populated by bowl games — but at least it was in Miami. Bowl games may have lost their luster over the past decade-plus, but it’s hard to complain about being sent to South Beach in December for a football game.
The Miami Beach Bowl is no more, and it’s now been reincarnated as another unnecessary bowl game to be played in a metro area even more populated by bowl games — and it won’t be anywhere near as interesting as Miami.
Meet the Frisco Bowl, the newest ESPN-created postseason college football game to be played in the scenic locale of Frisco, Texas.
The north Dallas suburb will host the game at Toyota Stadium, a 20,500-seat outdoor venue that’s home to MLS club FC Dallas as well as the FCS National Championship every January. The Frisco Bowl will also compete for sponsorship dollars and public attention with the Cotton Bowl in Arlington, the Heart of Dallas Bowl in Dallas and the Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth.
“We are pleased to be able to host this game in one of the most vibrant football markets in the country,” said ESPN vice president of events Clint Overby. “The infrastructure and facilities that exist in Frisco are outstanding and will be an excellent venue for the teams, players, administrators and fans traveling into the marketplace. We look forward to working with civic organizations and businesses in the area to create an annual event that embraces the spirit of the community.”
The first annual Frisco Bowl will pit an American Athletic Conference team against a to-be-determined conference at 8 p.m. ET on Dec. 20.
It appears the door to one member of Texas’ 2017 recruiting class arriving in Austin this summer has opened a little wider.
In late February, Reese Leitao was arrested at his Oklahoma high school on a charge of possession/delivery of a controlled dangerous substance with intent to sell within a thousand feet of a school, a felony. Tuesday, the Austin American-Statesman is reporting, Leitao pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor drug possession charge.
As part of the plea agreement, Leitao received a four-year deferred sentence; provided he stays clean during that time, the charge will be wiped off his record. The American-Statesman writes that, “[a]ccording to Leitao’s attorney, Leitao has ‘some probationary work,’including speaking engagements at schools, and will be under the supervision of the district attorney.” A $1,000 fine was part of his punishment as well.
The ball is now in the hands of first-year UT head coach Tom Herman as to whether Leitao will have a football future with the Longhorns.
“I’m happy,” the attorney, Allen Smallwood, told the newspaper. “Hopefully the University of Texas will be happy.”
At the time of Leitao’s arrest, a statement attributed to Herman said that “[w]e’re collecting information, will talk to Reese and his family, let the legal system run its course and then address it further at the appropriate time.” As of this posting, the university has yet to publicly address the development.
Leitao was a three-star 2017 signee, rated as the No. 19 tight end in the country and the No. 8 player at any position in the state of Oklahoma.
One of the most physically-gifted and talented players in the history of Miami Hurricanes football is gone way, way too soon.
The Orlando Police Department confirmed Tuesday afternoon that Cortez Kennedy passed away earlier today. He was just 48 years old.
No cause of death has been determined, with the OPD stating that “at this time there is nothing suspicious to report but we are conducting an investigation regarding his unattended passing.”
After starting his collegiate playing career at the junior college level, Kennedy moved on to the University of Miami, earning All-American honors in 1989. In 2004, he was inducted into the university’s Sports Hall of Fame.
The third overall pick of the 2000 NFL draft, Kennedy spent his entire 11-year pro career with the Seattle Seahawks. In 2012, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Not surprisingly, Kennedy’s sudden passing has brought an outpouring of emotion from those connected to the football program.
The younger brother of Leonard Fournette has finally made a name for himself, albeit for all of the wrong reasons.
Monday afternoon, WAFB-TV reported, LSU running back Lanard Fournette was arrested on a charge of using a fake ID to gamble at a Baton Rouge casino this past weekend. The 20-year-old Fournette was subsequently released on a $1,000 bond.
The Baton Rouge Advocate has obtained some of the details led up to the arrest of the redshirt sophomore.
Fournette… was arrested Monday after surveillance video showed and casino personnel confirmed he gained access to the gaming floor Saturday with a different ID than his own driver’s license, according to his arrest report.
Security video showed Fournette playing at a “craps table” for 16 minutes around 1:30 p.m., before walking to the player’s services counter. Fournette then allegedly presented his real ID to the cashier for a cash withdrawal, who determined his accurate age and contacted security, the report says.
Fournette, of Slidell, was detained at the casino, but left before the officer’s arrival, the report says. When casino security asked Fournette about the incident, Fournette said he used another person’s ID to enter the casino, the report says.
Head coach Ed Orgeron is aware of the incident and any discipline will be handled internally.
A three-star 2015 signee, Fournette took a redshirt his true freshman season. In three games last year, he ran for 13 yards on five carries.
Fournette’s older brother was the fourth overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft following an Al-American career at LSU.