Michigan (10-2) is the favorite against Florida (9-3) at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Saturday (December 29, 2018, 12:00ET).
The spread opened at a healthy -7.5 points for the Wolverines. They’ve gone 10-2 SU as favorites this year, and 6-6-0 against the spread. The Gators are 2-1 straight up as underdogs, and 2-1-0 against the spread.
It’s hard to know how to feel about Michigan’s 2018 season. On the one hand, they fielded one of the best defensive units in the country, and discovered something of a passing game with Shea Patterson. They were a Playoff contender until the last week of the season. On the other hand, they lost to Ohio State 62-39. Football is wild.
The stats: the team held opponents to 17.6 points per game. That’s among the very best in the country, especially when you consider that it includes a 62-point game. The offense was pretty good, too: Shea Patterson completed 64.8% of his attempts this season for 2,364 yards and 21 touchdowns. Those might not be the kind of numbers people were expecting when he announced his transfer, but they’re certainly not bad. Karan Higdon gained 1,221 yards from scrimmage and rushed for 10 touchdowns, averaging a decent 5.3 yards per carry.
SHEA PATTERSON HAS WHEELS! ??
The QB ran 81 yards to set up a Michigan TD! pic.twitter.com/qrYEIF8ndG
— ESPN CollegeFootball (@ESPNCFB) October 14, 2018
To paraphrase Bart Simpson: Michigan is a land of contrasts. Elite, except when they’re really not. Blessed with a truly great passer, and he finds most of his utility running. It’s a weird, somewhat uncomfortable season for Michigan fans, but it’s certainly better than what Brady Hoke could muster.
Florida’s also had an up-and-down season. The 31-game streak over Kentucky ended, but the Gators finished 9-3 and second in the division. In the first year under Dan Mullen, Florida beat LSU, Mississippi State, Tennessee, South Carolina and Florida State. Nobody knows how to feel.
Feleipe Franks continues to be a serviceable quarterback for the Gators. He completed 58.5% of his passes for 2,284 yards and 23 touchdowns. He helped Lamical Perine rush for 1,178 yards and 6 touchdowns, chugging along at a steady 5.9 yards per carry. The defense was probably the hihgligh of this team, allowing just 20.4 points per game. Jachai Polite recorded 11 sacks this season,
The Gators offense features QB Feleipe Franks, who passed for 2,284 yards and 23 TD’s this season. Franks completed 58.5% of his passes, which works out to a passer rating of 144.1. Lamical Perine rushed for 1,178 yards and 6 touchdowns, averaging a remarkable 5.9 yards per carry.
The defense allowed 339.8 yards and 20.4 points per game. Jachai Polite recorded 11 sacks this season, a number that’s probably helped by the notoriously aggressive Todd Grantham at defensive coordinator.
Jachai Polite puts LSU’s left tackle in the spin cycle. What a player. pic.twitter.com/ckUnrqd1vl
— Fed Scivittaro (@MeshPointScout) October 6, 2018
The reasonable take about this team is that the Gators are moving in the right direction after years of disappointing leadership. Making a statement in the Peach Bowl might be the next step in Dan Mullen’s master plan.
The two teams have a combined over/under record of 15-9, which should be tempting. The over/under on this game is set at 50.5, although it’s thought that we should take the points (+7.5 for Florida, in this case) in a shootout.
This line probably underrates Michigan, but not by much. It’s tough to lay that big of a spread for a team that ended the season on a low note, in a transfer quarterback’s last game.