Another Bitter Instant Classic

For the 3rd time in 4 games, Michigan comes up just short.

Photo: David Guralnick - Detroit News
The 2016 season, while wildly successful, will be defined by close losses on the road. In all 3 games, Michigan held the lead within the final minute of play. Michigan will have lost 3 of their last 4 games by a combined total of 5 points. For a team that scored a total of 534 points this season, 5th most in Michigan Football history, that's a bitter way for a season to end.

It was brutal, it was tough, it was a valiant effort to come back and make it a game, it was not the way anyone would've expected to go. It was many things, but in the end it was yet another "instant classic" that Michigan finds itself on the losing end of.

The College Football Gods have a sick sense of humor.

Before the game even started, Jabrill Peppers was ruled out for a tweaked hamstring suffered in a walk-through practice the day before. It's just one of those freak things that comes out of nowhere. But for Michigan fans, that type of thing can only happen to us, right?

Peppers spent the game up in the coaches booth, and not on the sideline per Jim Harbaugh's request. I suspect this was to keep to focus on the team and the game, and not on Peppers who's frustrated tears in the locker room afterwards showed just how important this game and this team really mean to him. Right now I'd the odds on his return to Michigan next year at 50-50.

To add to the injury frustration, Jake Butt goes down early in the game with an injured ACL/MCL that not only knocked him out of this game, but could seriously impact his stock going into the draft season.

Insert Christian McCaffrey / Leonard Fournette narrative here.

Down their two best offensive/defensive weapons and team leaders, Michigan struggled early to find a way to keep this game close. Florida State meanwhile, rolled along.

Kenny Allen was Mr. Everything once again and kept Michigan in this game through the first half. He ended 2016 hitting 15 straight field goals, just 1 short of the Michigan record. He was also a perfect 95 of 95 in PATs in his career. Not to mention he was a pretty darn good punter and kickoff specialist as well. He will be missed, for sure.

Wilton Speight was definitely not 100% last night. A lot of his passes were rushed due to zero help from his offensive line, but he let a lot of balls sail over the receivers hands. He seemed to get it together towards the end of the game, but for most stretches he looked off.

Speaking of off, the interior of Michigan's offensive line had a very rough night dealing with the front 4 of Florida State, especially DeMarcus Walker who set up shop in Michigan's backfield all night. Ben Bredeson and Kyle Kalis had maybe their worst games as Wolverines. De'Veon Smith, as expected, had no where to run as FSU totally shut him down.

As a team, Michigan finished the game with 89 rushing yards on 36 carries. That's not going to get it done against anyone, let alone a team as good as Florida State. A bright spot for the Wolverines was freshman Chris Evans who's 30-yard touchdown run for the go-ahead score was easily Michigan's biggest play of the night. No question the biggest issue facing this team going into 2017 will be the running game. The remnants of the Brady Hoke offense are leaving, and say what you will, I think that's going to only help this team going forward.

I think Harbaugh got every bit of what he was going to get out of these seniors.

In a weird way, this game was a fitting end to a great season turned sour. Michigan is a very good team with some major issues that got covered up by coaching and sheer guts. But when it came down to it in big games, Michigan just couldn't get it done. 2016 was a successful season overall, but there's still tons of room for improvement.

The future is bright for this Michigan program.

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