The Michigan Wolverines missed two of their best players Friday night when they took on the Florida State Seminoles in the Capital One Orange Bowl.
Jabrill Peppers and Jake Butt were absent from the game after suffering injuries.
Peppers tweaked his hamstring during practice on Thursday, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Peppers, a junior linebacker, was a Heisman finalist after posting a solid stat line of 66 tackles and three sacks during the regular season.
He got it done on offense for the Wolverines this year as well, scoring three touchdowns on 27 attempts, along with a punt return touchdown as well.
Butt started the Orange Bowl, but left in the second quarter clutching his right leg following a 16-yard reception. Butt did walk to the Michigan locker room under his own power. The senior did not return however and finished his final game with three catches for 28 yards.
Peppers was missed early on in the game, as the Seminoles jumped out to a commanding 17-3 lead.
However, Jim Harbaugh’s Wolverines stormed back, and powered by an unanswered 15-point fourth quarter, appeared to have the win secured, but Seminole quarterback Deondre Francois had other ideas.
Francois propelled Florida State into the lead with a 12-yard pass to Nyqwan Murray for a touchdown with 36 seconds left on the clock, putting the Seminoles in front 33-30.
Michigan then turned the momentum back in their favor after returning the blocked PAT to pull within a point 33-32.
The Wolverines couldn’t complete the comeback, as Florida State sealed the victory 33-32.
After the game, Florida State head coach Jimbo Fischer praised his team.
“The character on this team…I’ve said it before. I’m as proud of this team as any I’ve coached,” Fischer said.
On the other side, it wasn’t so good, as Harbaugh told reporters that Butt’s injury is likely an ACL or MCL tear.
Jim Harbaugh said Jake Butt’s injury is either an MCL or ACL. Very unfortunate.
— Kyle Rowland (@KyleRowland) December 31, 2016
ESPN’s Darren Rovell notes that Butt took out $4 million in total disability insurance and $2 million in loss of value insurance and could start collecting that money after the second round of the NFL draft.
After missing out on the College Football Playoff, some were skeptical of Peppers’ choice to sit out of the Orange Bowl. Peppers’ decision to sit out the game was not similar to that of Leonard Fournette or Christian McCaffery, according to those close to him.
Fournette and McCaffery chose to sit out their bowl games in order to avoid injury and to spend more time preparing for the NFL draft.
Now that we’ve seen instances of high-profile players getting injured in this bowl game, the question will undoubtedly resurface on whether players should sit out or play their final bowl games.
Many have been critical of Fournette and McCaffery’s decision to sit.
Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll is one of those against players electing to skip their bowl games.
“I don’t really like it, I would like guys to play for their teams and battle for their teams and finish up and finish things. I understand why a guy maybe makes a choice to secure his future more so or be safer or whatever, but I don’t agree with it,” Carroll told Pro Football Talk.
Despite missing the Orange Bowl while rehabbing his leg, Peppers has not decided on whether he will return to Michigan for his senior season, or forgo his final year of eligibility and enter the NFL draft.
Michigan fans would surely like to see him return, but a number of NFL teams will also be on his radar.
[Fetaured Image by Chris Trotman/Getty Images]