The No. 7 ranked Michigan Wolverines (10-2) will face off against the No. 10 ranked Florida Gators in the 2018 Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl. Kickoff is set for Saturday, December 29th at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA. The game will be televised on ESPN.
Oddsmakers opened up the game with Michigan as a 6-point favorite. While some books still have the Wolverines at -6, I’m also seeing some places with Michigan at -5.5 and others that have them up to -6.5. The total for this matchup is currently at 51 points.
Peach Bowl Vegas Odds Preview: Michigan vs Florida
The Wolverines opened up the 2018 season with a 24-17 loss at Notre Dame. A defeat at the time had many writing off Michigan being a real threat. Turns out that Fighting Irish team was pretty good. The Wolverines rolled off 10 straight wins and went into the finale at Ohio State, needing a win to secure the Big Ten East and a spot in the Big Ten title game. A path that would have landed the Wolverines in the playoffs. Instead, Michigan got annihilated 62-39 by the Buckeyes and they find themselves here.
Michigan has been to a bowl game in each of head coach Jim Harbaugh’s first three years, but are just 1-2 in those games. The only win coming back in the 2015 Citrus Bowl against these very same Gators. They lost 33-32 to Florida State as a 7-point favorite in the 2016 Orange Bowl and 26-19 to South Carolina as a 8-point favorite in last year’s Outback Bowl.
The Gators had high hopes in the first year under head coach Dan Mullen, but knew it would be a tall task in year one to overtake Georgia in the SEC East. They ended up T-2nd in the division with Kentucky at 5-3 in league play, which I think has to be considered a positive. They will have a shot here with a win over Michigan to secure the first 10-win season for Florida since 2015 and just the third going back to 2010 (Urban Meyer’s last year).
Florida didn’t make a bowl game last year and this will be the first under Mullen. The good news is Mullen had a strong 5-2 record in bowl games as the head coach at Mississippi State. Last year his Bulldogs won 31-27 as a 6-point dog to Louisville in the TaxSlayer Bowl.
2018 Peach Bowl Free Betting Pick & Predictions: Florida +6.5
My early lean here would be to grab the points with the Gators. I’m not buying for a second that Michigan is excited at all about playing in this game. I’m pretty confident that for most of the Wolverines players and fans, the season ended with that ugly loss at Ohio State in the finale. A defeat that ultimately kept Michigan out of the college football playoffs. No disrespect to the Peach Bowl, which is a bowl that a lot of teams would love to be in, but it’s a letdown compared to what the Wolverines were hoping for.
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I think just how little this game means to Michigan is pretty evident by the fact that they got 4 starters sitting this out to prepare for the NFL draft, including two of their best defensive payers in Rashan Gary and Devin Bush, as well as leading rusher Karan Higdon. Both Gary and Bush are considered Top prospects for the 2019 draft and Higdon is the 5th best running back on the board.
On the flip side of this, I think there’s a ton of incentive here for Florida to play well, as they are still in the early stages of their transition to new head coach Dan Mullen. I think Mullen will convince his team that this game is a measuring stick for the program with Michigan being ranked No. 7. There’s also no doubt that Mullen will be playing the underdog card with his team in this one. I also don’t think Harbaugh is the most liked guy in the SEC and there’s some seniors on this team that haven’t forgot about the whooping Harbaugh’s Wolverines handed them back in the 2015 Citrus Bowl.
You also can’t ignore the track record of these two coaches in bowl games. Mullens is 5-2 overall and won 3 straight to close out his tenure with Mississippi State, including a upset win over Louisville as a 6-point dog in last year’s TaxSlayer Bowl. You then have Harbaugh, who is 1-2 in bowl games with Michigan, having lost the last two outright as a favorite of at least a touchdown. Give me the Gators +6.5!