A Peach Bowl that was expected to be a bit of a defensive slugfest has lived up to its billing so far. Florida leads Michigan 13-10 at halftime in Atlanta. Florida took the lead late in the second quarter when Feleipe Franks took off on a draw up the middle on third down and leaped for a go-ahead score.
Michigan appeared to score a touchdown early in the game when Christian Turner seemed to take off for a long touchdown on the third play of the game, but an instant replay review brought the football back to the Florida 38-yard line, where he stepped out of bounds. The drive would stall at that yard line with a turnover on downs when Ben Mason was stuffed on a fourth-and-one run.
Florida put the first points on the board later in the first quarter with a 21-yard field goal by Evan McPherson, but the Gators clearly left some points on the board after having a first-and-goal from the three-yard line and not being able to pick up an inch. Franks missed an open wide receiver in the end zone for what should have been an easy touchdown when he ran out of bounds on first down.
McPherson kicked a second field goal in the second quarter to cut the Michigan lead to one, but Michigan’s Jake Moody picked a field goal to give the Wolverines a four-point lead later in the second quarter. Moody missed a kick wide left from 52 yards in the final seconds of the half, preventing Michigan from tying the game at halftime.
It wasn’t the prettiest of victories, but No. 4 Michigan (10-1, 8-0 Big Ten) kicked enough field goals to stay ahead of Indiana (5-6, 2-6 Big Ten) for a 31-20 victory that leaves Michigan alone in first place in the Big Ten East Division with one game left to play. Freshman kicker Jake Moody was the star of the game for Michigan after successfully kicking all six field goal attempts he tried, a school record for made kicks without a miss. It just so happened to be his first game for Michigan.
Chase Winovich left the game in the third quarter with an upper-body injury. Winovich was shoved to the ground by Indiana offensive lineman Simon Stepaniak, who then fell on top of Winovich as he was laying on the ground. No call for unsportsmanlike conduct was called on Stepaniak despite appearing to decide to fall on the Wolverine as he was on the ground, although Stepaniak was flagged for a late hit on a Michigan player shortly after the injury. Winovich left for the locker room after coming off the field and his parents were later escorted from the stands to see their son as the game continued.
Michigan also lost Berkley Edwards to a more serious-looking injury in the fourth quarter. Edwards was left laying on the ground on a special teams return by Michigan after being blocked by Cam Jones. Jones was ejected for targeting, which means he will have to sit out the first half of next week’s game. Edwards was tended to for roughly 10 minutes before being taken out on a stretcher. It was reported Edwards did have motion in his extremities moments later.
Devin Bush and David Long were also banged up late in the game as well, leaving Michigan hurting just a little bit on defense.
Michigan will be on the road next week to play at No. 10 Ohio State. Because the Buckeyes survived in overtime earlier in the day at Maryland in a wild one, the winner of next week’s rivalry matchup between historic Big Ten powers will be crowned the East Division champion. A win will send either Michigan or Ohio State to Indianapolis for the Big Ten championship the following week, where they will face West Division champion Northwestern. The winner of next week’s game will also remain in the hunt for a spot in the College Football Playoff.
Indiana will conclude the regular season at home next week against Purdue. The Hoosiers will need to win in order to become bowl-eligible this season. Purdue will also be playing for bowl eligibility after losing a triple-overtime thriller to Wisconsin on Saturday. Winner goes bowling, loser stays home.