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2018 Peach Bowl Preview - Is This Jon Harbaugh's College Swan Song?

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December 28th, 2018

Since returning to the college ranks, it's hard to call Jon Harbaugh's tenure at Michigan anything other than a rousing success. He's returned the Wolverines to their rightful place amongst the college football elite, while stirring up a strong 38-13 record over the last four years. Unfortunately, his teams are just never quite good enough to get over the hump. The 2018 Peach Bowl is a chance for Harbaugh to prove once and for all what his program is capable of, and they get a doozy of a matchup against the unexpected Florida Gators.

The main story overshadowing this matchup, however, is that Harbaugh might be on his way out. The team he's been linked to the most is the New York Jets. From our perspective, it would be bonkers for Harbaugh to leave a comfortable situation in college football to go back to an NFL environment that is as hostile as possible to head coaches. But the more pertinent concern, if any, is how Harbaugh's supposed departure will impact the Michigan Wolverines, who are -5.5 favorites in the 2018 Peach Bowl this Saturday.

2018 Peach Bowl #10 Florida Gators (9-3) vs. #7 Michigan Wolverines (10-2) Saturday, December 29th - 12pm ET on ESPN Betting Line - Michigan -5.5 (51.0)

Drama and rumor mills aside, Michigan is a worthy play this weekend for the simple reason that they own the nation's top defense in terms of yards allowed. They combined an elite secondary that gave up just 145.9 yards (2nd) with a stout rush defense (16th) to allow the fewest total yards per game (262.5 - 1st). The problem? That defense didn't show up when it truly mattered. Michigan's opened and closed the season with losses to Notre Dame and Ohio State, and lost to the Buckeyes in a 39-62 blowout.

Florida, meanwhile, was one of the nicest surprises in college football this season. They erupted with 6-1 SU run to open the season, suffering a lone loss to Kentucky in Week 2 before any of us had any idea that the Wildcats were for real. Unfortunately, the Gators slammed in to Georgia and Missouri at the wrong time, losing back-to-back games by nearly identical scores of 17-36 and 17-38. Thankfully, they were able to end the year at 3-0 SU and 2-1 ATS in order to earn a berth in the 2018 Peach Bowl.

Where Florida has routinely excelled is in the post season where they are not only 6-2 ATS in their last 8 bowl games, but also 4-0 ATS when playing non-conference opponents. Strangely, this hasn't translated to a lot of success on neutral territory, where the Gators are just 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games. Michigan is 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games when playing a winning team, but that's where the positive trends end for them.

Thankfully, those looking to back the Wolverines in the 2018 Peach Bowl have one simple fact comforting them - they are far and away the better team and will be motivated to end their season on a high note in Georgia. Florida has played exceptionally well until they've faced equal competition, while Michigan has proven to be the gate keeper for the CFP.

Jon Harbaugh coming or going won't have the impact that a lot of people think it will. His players have always played hard for him at both levels of this sport, and Michigan has been trending upwards since his arrival. They'll even their 1-2 SU bowl record by winning on Saturday and building that momentum up towards the start of a fresh, new year.

2018 Peach Bowl Betting Pick - Michigan -5.5 (UNDER)