At last, Orange Bowl for Michigan and FSU arrives
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh finds oranges refreshing and has consumed at least two this week. And Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher used to break his bedtime as a kid to stay up late and watch bowl games.
On Thursday, those were their big revelations.
On Friday, neither coach will seem so relaxed.
Although not the game either team wanted to be in when this season began, the Orange Bowl is no consolation prize for No. 6 Michigan and No. 10 Florida State. The Wolverines (10-2) and Seminoles (9-3) square off Friday night, Michigan aiming for perhaps a top-five ranking to end the season and Florida State looking to avoid the first three-game bowl losing streak in school history.
''Winning the Orange Bowl championship is our goal now,'' Harbaugh said. ''That's a lot, in our minds. We want to win the most awards. We want to get the best grades. We want to excel at sports, and we have that opportunity to win a trophy.''
When Florida State got off to a rocky 3-2 start and quickly fell out of the national championship picture, Fisher kept getting asked what was left to play for this season.
The answer is now obvious.
It's not the College Football Playoff - but the Orange Bowl is still a pretty big deal.
''Just because you lose a game here and there ... things can be achieved,'' Fisher said.
Both schools are big brands in college football, but this game also seems like it could have classic something-has-to-give elements.
Florida State has the top-ranked red-zone offense in the country, while Michigan's defense is No. 2 in that category. The Seminoles' Dalvin Cook gets 6 yards per carry; the Wolverines allow about 3 yards per carry. FSU averages 35 points per game; Michigan allowed 38 points - total - in October and did not give up more than 30 in any game this season.
''This is where we ended up,'' Fisher said. ''Now the key is you've got to finish.''
Some other things to know going into the Orange Bowl:
SACK WATCH: Florida State leads the nation in sacks, with 47. (Michigan is No. 2, with 44.) But the Seminoles know sacks might not come easily against Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight, who's listed at 6-foot-6 and 243 pounds - drawing comparisons to Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. ''People assume because of his size that he's not a runner. ... He is,'' FSU defensive coordinator Charles Kelly said of Speight. ''He's very shifty and has very good vision.'' The Wolverines have allowed only 18 sacks all season.
ORANGE TREAT: Yes, Harbaugh likes oranges. He was asked Thursday what he thought of the fruit, and if he's ever tried to see how many he can consume in five minutes. (Answer there: No.) He had some oranges this week, though he stopped short of grabbing one for a snack out of the Orange Bowl trophy. ''Very refreshing, and same with orange juice. Great thirst quencher,'' Harbaugh said.
BOWL DROUGHT: Florida State once went winless in four consecutive bowls, back when there were ties in the college game, but has never lost more than its current streak of two in a row. Fisher isn't concerned on that front. ''Don't ever think of it. It means nothing. The past means nothing. You only play in the future,'' said Fisher, who more proudly pointed out that his team is in a New Year's Six game for the fifth consecutive year.
ORANGE HISTORY: Florida State is 4-5 in its past Orange Bowl appearances. Michigan is 1-1. The higher-ranked team in the AP Top 25 has won the last six Orange Bowls, the most recent exception there being No. 10 Iowa's 24-14 win over No. 9 Georgia Tech on Jan. 5, 2010.
FAMILY TIME: Harbaugh came to his first Orange Bowl when his father was an assistant at Michigan in the 1970s, and most of his kids are now getting the Orange Bowl experience. Five of Harbaugh's six children made their way to South Florida for the game. The only holdout was one of his daughters, excused for a good reason. ''She had water polo games,'' Harbaugh said.
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