After Thursday’s press conferences with Jimbo Fisher and Jim Harbaugh, the stage has been fully set for Friday’s Orange Bowl matchup between the Florida State Seminoles and the Michigan Wolverines.
The question remains though: How important is this game for both teams? Sure, it’s a New Years’ Six bowl, FSU’s fifth straight and U of M’s first since the 2011 season. However, it’s not the College Football Playoff appearance that Michigan was so close to or that the Seminoles were projected for before the season began.
As such, it was questioned of Fisher what he thinks of the notion that non-CFP bowls have lost some meaning in the CFP era. His answer was a resounding one:
If you’re keeping score, it’s not meaningless. You play your tails off. It’s competition, that’s your job, that’s what you are supposed to do. I don’t get the meaningless part either. There’s no such thing as a meaningless bowl game. I think that is a product of our playoff, and I said that was going to happen. I don’t mean this to y’all, but I think that’s what the media has created. You have guys acting like it’s playoffs or nothing. You win 10 or 11 games, beat your rivals, go play in the Orange Bowl or Sugar Bowl or Cotton Bowl or whatever bowl, those games all matter. What is wrong with that? One of the great things about college football is not everyone ends with a loss. That’s how a lot of the programs in college football were built was on winning bowl games, going to bowl games, and going to sites. Bowl games, I think, are one of the things that we have to be really, really careful, with all this playoff stuff, that we don’t push away in this world because we’re all caught up in the championship. All we talk about on Tuesday is who’s in the playoff rankings. Who cares? Go play, be the best you can be, and where you end up, that’s where the ultimate goal was to be. These games all mean something. I think they mean more than ever right now. I hope we don’t push that away because we’re going to destroy the great tradition of college football if we do.”
Fisher’s train of thought here is assuredly the same one he is preaching to his team as FSU looks to avoid the first three-bowl-game losing streak in program history. The Seminoles may have been a bit guilty of not taking last year’s Peach Bowl vs. Houston seriously, but this time, against a Michigan team which has been among the best nationally all season long, the drive seems to be there.
“This game in particular is important because we haven’t won [our bowl game] the past two years,” Florida State fullback Freddie Stevenson said. “We came out with the mindset that we’ve got to be locked in, focused.”
“I felt like the past two years when we had bowl games, we weren’t really locked in. We were more trying to have fun and enjoy the event, feeling like just because we are Florida State, we are going to out there and win” Stevenson added. “We know we’ve got to put the work in because nobody is going to go out there and be scared of us.”
From what Stevenson said, it would seem that this Florida State team has bought into the mentality that there is something to play for against Michigan. However, we won’t know for sure until the Seminoles take the field Friday night inside Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium.