Things got off to an ominous start for Florida State at the Orange Bowl when mascot Renegade was spooked in pre-game activities and knocked Chief Osceola off just as he was about to plan the team’s famed flaming spear at midfield.
As it turns out, that would be about the only time that the Seminoles struggled as they jumped out to a 20-6 lead heading into halftime of the first New Year’s Six game of the season.
The Wolverines had to deal plenty of their own adversity, as do-everything star Jabrill Peppers was ruled out pregame with a hamstring injury and Mackey Award-winning tight end Jake Butt was taken to the locker room after suffering a shot to his knee late in the second quarter. While the former won’t play at all, it’s possible the latter does return for a team that needs all the help they can get.
Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight threw for only 60 yards but was under pressure on just about every dropback as defensive end Demarcus Walker was in the backfield on every play and was one reason why the team only rushed for 18 yards in the half.
Taking advantage of the absence of Peppers on the Wolverines defense were Dalvin Cook (70 yards, one score rushing) and Deondre Francois (177 yards, one touchdown pass), with the two leading the Noles to an opening drive touchdown to set the tone early in the game.
While things have been fairly one-sided in the Orange Bowl so far, there’s still a lot of football left to be played and it should be fun to see how the chess match between Jim Harbaugh and Jimbo Fisher plays out after some halftime adjustments.