How Good is Florida, Really?

A closer look at Michigan's upcoming Peach Bowl opponent

On paper, the upcoming Peach Bowl clash between Michigan and Florida appears to be two evenly-matched top 10 teams. However, upon further reflection it appears the Gators have benefited greatly by playing not one, but two FCS opponents (Charleston Southern and Idaho).

For example, Florida is an impressive 18th nationally in pass efficiency defense. But how much of that ranking is inflated by the fact they so dominated those two FCS foes, they each failed to register a positive QBR? Those two FCS foes combined for 76 yards passing in those two games.

Furthermore, quarterback Feleipe Franks appears improved from the redshirt freshman making his first start the Wolverines faced in the 2017 season opener, when he was benched. But again, his numbers are inflated by playing two FCS teams. Against those lesser foes, Franks averaged a decent adjusted QBR of 76. Against the other 10 FBS teams on Florida's schedule, Franks' average adjusted QBR plummets to a paltry 59.5.

By comparison, Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson's adjusted QBR this season is 84.1 while facing all-FBS competition. Ten of those FBS games against power five competition/Notre Dame.

The Gators have 32 sacks on defense, which is one more than Michigan. Once again, though, a good chunk of those came against underwhelming competition. Ten of those sacks came against the two FCS opponents and Colorado State, which is 86th nationally in sacks allowed and ranked only the 122nd best team in the country by Sagarin. Florida managed just 22 sacks in the 10 games it played against power five teams. By comparison, all but four of Michigan's 31 sacks this season came against power five opponents/Notre Dame.

Finally, Florida's struggles with run defense appear to be very real. The Gators are only 74th nationally against the run, and against FCS foes Charleston Southern and Idaho they gave up 188 yards per game on the ground. By comparison, the Wolverines only gave up 123.3 rushing yards per game against FBS competition this season.

Numbers like these are why Michigan is favored by the oddsmakers, and deserves to be.

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