Michigan overpowers Florida, unexpected dream seasons end for two programs


Advertisement

ORLANDO, FLA. -- Two of college football's biggest surprises put an end to their 2015 seasons in very different fashions on the inagural day of 2016. Michigan completely overpowered Florida's usually stout defense by putting up a total of 503 yards of offense and 41 points on the board. The 503 number was good for Florida's largest offensive output allowed from its defense all season.

Right out the gate, Florida appeared to be moving away from its offensive woes that plagued the team for the majority of November and in the SEC Championship game in December, by getting into Michigan red zone territory on both of its drives in the first quarter. On it's first drive, Florida attempted a fake field goal that ended horrifically, but the second was a touchdown thrown to quarterback Treon Harris on a trick play to tie things up 7-7.

But Michigan was able to score ten points in the second quarter to go up 17-7 by half --  on the first Wolverine touchdown, Michigan quarterback Jake Rudock found a wide open Jehu Chesson in the end zone after a bad bite on a double move Florida corner by Vernon Hargreaves III. Hargreaves was sidelined for certain series in the second half, but Florida head coach Jim McElwain said it was nothing abnormal about the corner rotation on the day.

Michigan didn't let up on the gas in the second half. The Wolverines opened with a 12 play, 69-yard touchdown drive to go up 24-7 early in the third. Florida's offense would continue to struggle, managing consecutive three-and-out drives while Michigan kept churning. Rudock found Jehu Chesson for 45 yards to get deep into Florida territory that set up yet another touchdown in the ensuing plays.

Advertisement

"This was the best gam we played all year. It was a great team win, I don't think I've ever seen our offense play like that, and our defense was magnificent." Michigan first-year head coach Jim Harbaugh said.

Florida was outscored 34-0 since the first quarter after Michigan kicked a 25-yard field goal to add insult to injury, racking the score up to 41-7 with 6:42 left in the fourth quarter. The 34-point loss would mark Florida's worst in program history since the 1996 Fiesta Bowl, when Nebraska trounced Florida 62-24.  First-year head coach Jim McElwain discussed the expectation level moving forward for the program, and how it fit in with the back end of this season.

"The expectation is you can never take the foot off the gas pedal. I think we had some guys who were satisfied when they won the [SEC] East." McElwain said.

Florida and Michigan -- two different programs manned by two very different head coaches are in the right direction. Not to mention they are both way ahead of schedule. Florida and Michigan under first-year head coaches weren't expected to even really compete inside their respective conferences this season. Both teams finishing the year with ten wins is obviously no easy task, and given how quickly these two were able to get there goes to show you how close these teams already are.

Now that we've officially reached the offseason, the attention for Harbaugh and McElwain turns to recruiting and who will replace the seniors and members of the team who have, or will decide to go to the NFL. But the game played on a warm January day to start 2016 in Orlando marked both the beginning and end of a brand new era for two of the nation's most prolific college football programs. Which coach wins a national title first?

 

Advertisement