Orange Bowl: Michigan Wolverines-Florida State Seminoles Picks Against the Spread

The Orange Bowl pits a Michigan club with one of the country's top defensive units against a Florida State team loaded with explosive playmakers. SportsLine analyst Josh Nagel breaks down the game and offers a spread selection.

 

ORANGE BOWL: MICHIGAN WOLVERINES VS. FLORIDA STATE SEMINOLES (+7, O/U 51.5), Fri. 8 p.m. ET

The Orange Bowl ended up being the consolation prize for two teams that had strong aspirations of reaching the four-team playoff.

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Fri 12/30 8:00 PM EST
Michigan -255 O/U 49.5
vs. Florida St. +215 +7
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MICH
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Michigan mostly lived up to expectations and came agonizingly close to the postseason, with its two losses coming by four combined points along with some controversy.

The Wolverines lost 14-13 on a last-play field goal at Iowa, then fell to Ohio State after a disputed fourth-down spot gave the Buckeyes a new set of downs instead of ending the game on a Michigan stop.

The 30-27 defeat kept the Wolverines out of the Big 10 title game and sealed their postseason fate.

The Seminoles similarly had high expectations -- as they were highly ranked in every pre-season poll -- despite the fact their reshirt freshman quarterback had never taken a snap in a college game.

But defense was the primary culprit for Florida State, which was humiliated in a 63-20 loss to Louisville and gave up 37 points each in losses to Clemson and North Carolina.

However, the Seminoles finished the year on a four-game win streak against meager competition, the highlight a 31-13 victory over rival Florida.

JOSH NAGEL'S TAKE

Defense will be the key in this one, as Michigan's vaunted unit looks to stop the explosive Seminoles offense, led by quarterback Deondre Francois and all-purpose back Dalvin Cook.

Michigan has the top passing defense in the country, and was No. 2 overall in total yards (252.7) and in scoring defense (12.5 ppg).

Florida State improved to finish in the top 25 in most defensive categories, but those numbers were built mostly against weak offensive teams such as Wake Forest, Boston College and Florida.

Its sometimes-leaky defense could struggle against an underrated and efficient Michigan offense that averages 41 points per game (No. 12 nationally).

LINE MOVEMENT

This line opened at Michigan -6 in most markets, and sentiment for the favorite moved it to 7 at the majority of sportsbooks. However, there are a handful offering 6.5 for those who wish to back the favorite at less than a touchdown.

The total has been all over the place, as it opened in the 52 range, but the current numbers suggest a disparity in opinions and balance sheets. Some books are offering a total as high as 52.5, while others already have gone as low as 50.5.

By Thursday afternoon, the total stood at 52 with a line of Michigan -7. The money line was Michigan -275 after an open of -255.

SPORTSLINE EXPERTS

SportsLine data scientist Stephen Oh's projection model has a selection on the total in this game. Get this and all other SportsLine expert picks by clicking here.

SELECTION

Florida State has struggled against better defensive teams, and I think the Seminoles will struggle to find offensive rhythm against the rugged Wolverines defense.

Michigan could get its share of chunk plays by throwing over a defense designed to stop the run, but I still see a lot of drives ending in some sort of kick for both teams.

Getting the best possible number is paramount here, but I'm supporting the Under in what should be a defense-dominated grinder.