• Paul Compton

Citrus Bowl: Florida vs Michigan

These teams feature some interesting in-season trends. Florida's offense obviously suffered after starting QB Grief was suspended for PED's -- they ended the season trending down both in running and passing. Michgian had an amazingly dominant defense to open the season, starting with 7 straight "best" games of run defense and 5 of 7 "best" games of pass defense. Their pass defense had back to back lapses against MSU and MINN, but then rebounded with 3 straight "best" games. No such rebound for the Wolverine run defense, though, as they had 1 "best" and 2 "worst" games in their final 5. The defensive slide coincided with the losses of Senior defensive linemen Ojemudia and Glasgow, both lost for the season in mid-November. Offensively, I don't know if there's another team in the FBS that went through as much of a shift in where their offensive success came from during the course of the season as MICH. They started with a 4-1 ratio of "best" and "worst" running games, with a concurrent 1-3 record of "best" and "worst" passing games. In the second half of the season the running game sagged to an 0-4 ratio, while the passing game went 2-0, but at least matched or exceeded the opponent's usual ypp surrendered average in every one of their final 6 games. QB Ruddock and the MICH passing game really improved as the season went along. With the passing games headed in opposite directions, FLA is going to need success on the ground to have a chance in this game. The problem is, even with QB Harris' mediocre stats weighing upon FLA's pass game rankings, they still rank MUCH higher at passing the ball then running, 33rd to 95th. Ouch. Florida had a good ground game last year, this year has been pretty abysmal really, and I doubt anyone would have predicted they'd make it to the SEC championship game if they saw the rushing statistics Florida put up this year ahead of time. 7 "worst" games of run offense, and only one "best" against Georgia. Sure they played a tough schedule of SEC defenses, but the "best" and "worst" are based on compensated stats, so they really were that bad running the ball. The Gators then, logically, must have won with defense. They have my 3rd best rush defense, and 16th best pass defense. so yes. The running games have an equal not-so-hot projection of 3.2 ypc, while MICH has a .6 ypp advantage in the passing game. As a whole with the other metrics that go into my line that actually doesn't give MICH enough of an advantage to cover the 4 point spread, but enough to win by less than that. Still, there's no way I'd touch FLA in this game. The defenses have all the match up advantages, but with MICH's passing game being the one match up that has a chance to be the difference maker in this game I'd MICH or nobody in this contest. If you need some action, take the Under and hope for no action.

*** Michigan's DC Durkin will be the new head coach at Maryland.

Recommended investment: Under 41 (-115) 0.7%