Michigan 41, Florida 7

ORLANDO – Either Michigan figured out a few things on offense in the four weeks leading into Friday’s Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl or Florida’s defense laid an egg. Michigan looked like anything but an offensively challenged team as they pounded the Gators between the tackles for 225 rushing yards and picked Florida’s vaunted secondary apart for another 273 yards en route to a 41-7 win.

It was a disappointing finish for the Gators, who lost their final three games and finished Jim McElwain’s first season on the job 10-4. The win gave Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh 10 wins (Wolverines finished 10-3) in his first year in Ann Arbor.

Florida’s defense came into the game ranked #6 nationally, giving up just 295.4 yards and 16.5 points per game. Michigan exceeded those numbers before the third quarter came to an end. Michigan came into the game averaging 387 offensive yards and 30.6 points per game. By the end of the third quarter, the Wolverines had 393 total yards and 31 points.

In the third quarter, Michigan hammered away for 160 yards while the Gators managed only 2.

For a half, Florida was in this game. Although the defense struggled, the Gators moved the football and had multiple chances to score although they came away with only one touchdown. Florida outgained the Wolverines, 245-233 in the first half but trailed on the scoreboard, 17-7.

It could have been much different. On the game’s opening drive Florida blew two chances for a touchdown. On a first down at the Michigan 49, Treon Harris had plenty of time to throw but didn’t see Ahmad Fulwood a good 20 yards behind the Michigan secondary. By the time Harris spotted Fulwood, Michigan’s pass rush recovered, forcing a short throw on which Fullwood had to play defensive back to prevent an interception. Later in the same drive from the Michigan 21, Harris threw a perfect end zone fade that went right through Demarcus Robinson’s hands. That drive came up empty when UF didn’t fool anyone with a fake field goal.

On Florida’s third drive, Harris made a nice throw that caught De’Andre Goolsby in stride at the Michigan 25 but Goolsby dropped the ball. That drive ended with a Florida punt.

On the Gators’ next possession, the Gators drove from their own 37 to the Michigan 15 but on first down, rather than throw the ball out of bounds Harris threw into double coverage in the end zone where it was picked off by Jarrod Wilson.

Meanwhile, on the defensive side of the ball, Michigan’s offensive line completely dominated the Florida defensive front. When the Wolverines weren’t picking up 5 yards almost at will between the tackles, Jake Rudock was finding receivers running free in the secondary. Rudock finished the game hitting 20-31 passes for 273 yards and 3 touchdowns.

FIRST QUARTER

Michigan 7, Florida 0; 5:54

The Gators moved the ball well on their opening possession but when a Treon Harris pass went through the hands of Demarcus Robinson in the end zone, the Gators sent the field goal unit out and that meant Neil MacInnes trying a 38-yarder. The Gators attempted a fake that fooled no one with Channing Stribling picking off Johnny Townsend’s pass. Michigan took over at the Florida 27 and needed nine plays to drive the ball into the end zone. De’Veon Smith gained 39 yards on the ground to key the drive with 24 coming on one play for a first down to the UF 19. The touchdown was scored on a sweep to the left side by Drake Johnson from 4 yards out with 5:54 left in the first quarter. Kenny Allen kicked the extra point for a 7-0 Michigan lead.

Florida 7, Michigan 7; 1:58

The Gators had an answer for the Michigan touchdown, driving 75 yards on eight plays while using up 3:56 off the clock. Treon Harris completed passes of 15 yards to Jordan Cronkrite, 27 yards to Antonio Callaway and 20 yards to Chris Thompson on the drive. The Gators caught a break on the pass to Thompson, who lost control of the football at the 1 but officials ruled his knee was down before the ball came out. On third down from the two, the Gators ran a reverse with Callaway tossing an underhand pass to Harris for the touchdown. MacInnes came on to tie the game with the extra point.

SECOND QUARTER

Michigan 14, Florida 7; 8:49

Following a Florida punt, Michigan drove 80 yards in 8 plays to take the lead on a 31-yard touchdown pass from Jake Rudock to Jehu Chesson. Earlier in the drive Michigan benefitted from a 15-yard face mask penalty on Jonathan Bullard and followed that up with a 24-yard Rudock to Chesson pass that gave Michigan the ball at the Florida 42. Three plays later, Vernon Hargreaves III bit on a pump fake by Rudock, who lofted an easy pass to Chesson in the southeast corner of the end zone to put Michigan in front.

Michigan 17, Florida 7; 1:01

Michigan added a 21-yard field goal by Kenny Allen just before the half to cap a 12-play, 77-yard drive that took five minutes off the clock. Key plays on the drive were passes of 12 and 24 yards from Rudock to Chesson and a 17-yard run by Drake Johnson. Florida’s defense got tough once Michigan moved the ball inside the 10, holding the Wolverines to a field goal.

THIRD QUARTER 

Michigan 24, Florida 7; 8:47

Michigan took the opening kickoff of the second half and ground out a 12-play, 69-yard scoring drive that ended with a 3-yard touchdown pass from Rudock to Jake Perry. Rudock had a completion of 17 yards to Amara Darboh and 11 and 12 yards to Jake Butt on the drive, which got a gift first down on a third-and-2 at the UF 10 on a substitution infraction. Allen’s extra point made it a 17-point game.

Michigan 31, Florida 7; 3:48

The wheels began coming off for the Gators on Michigan’s next possession, a 5-play, 58-yard drive capped off by a 3-yard touchdown run by Sione Houma. Taking over after a poor punt by Johnny Townsend, Michigan immediately burned the Gators with a 45-yard Rudock to Chesson pass on which neither Hargreaves or Keanu Neal made a play on the ball. Three plays later, the Wolverines were in for the TD and a game everyone expected to be close had turned into a rout.

FOURTH QUARTER

Michigan 38, Florida 7; 12:32

Michigan drove 84 yards in 12 plays to take the lead to 38-7 on Rudock’s third touchdown pass of the game, an 8-yard flip in the right flat to running back Drake Johnson, who was left uncovered by Florida’s weak side linebacker. Key plays on the drive were a 24-yard pass from Rudock to Khalil Hill, a 15-yard facemask penalty on Florida’s Quincy Wilson and a 13-yard run by Johnson.

Michigan 41, Florida 7; 6:42

Following an ill-advised fake punt that gave Michigan its best field position of the game, the Wolverines tacked on a 25-yard field goal by Allen that was the final nail in Florida’s coffin. The field goal was set up by a 15-yard run by Rudock, who was never sacked and finished the day with 29 rushing yards.

 


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