Lamical Perine had a 5-yard scoring catch and a 53-yard touchdown run, leading a rushing attack that helped No. 10 Florida cap its comeback season with a 41-15 rout of No. 8 Michigan on Saturday in the Peach Bowl in Atlanta.
After finishing 4-7 in 2017, Florida made a stunning turnaround in Dan Mullen’s debut season as coach.
“To know where we were last season to where we are now is something special,” Mullen said. “To finish as a 10-win season, one of the top 10 teams in the country, that’s pretty special.”
Florida (10-3) closed the season with four straight victories.
“I’d call this season a success,” Mullen said.
Michigan (10-3) ended a promising season with two straight lopsided losses.
Leading Florida’s offense, Feleipe Franks ran for a touchdown and passed for another. He had a 20-yard scoring run in the second quarter and finished with 74 yards rushing on 14 carries. He passed for 173 yards.
Chauncey Gardner-Johnson led Florida’s defense with two interceptions, including one that he returned 30 yards for a touchdown with less than five minutes remaining. Gardner-Johnson’s first interception, early in the second half when Florida was leading by 13-10, set the tone for the Gators.
The Wolverines faced the unenviable absence of four top starters — including their top rusher, Karan Higdon, and their leading tackler, Devin Bush — who skipped the game to focus on the N.F.L. draft.
After giving up 567 yards in a crushing 62-39 loss to Ohio State that closed the regular season, Michigan’s defense again could not play up to its No. 1 ranking.
Coach Jim Harbaugh said he thought his players had recovered from the loss to Ohio State, which ended the Wolverines’ hopes for a spot in the College Football Playoff.
“I thought they were ready,” Harbaugh said.
Florida compiled 427 total yards, including 257 on the ground. Perine led the Gators with 76 yards rushing. Jordan Scarlett ran for 59 yards, including a 1-yard scoring run.
Michigan took a 7-3 lead on Shea Patterson’s 9-yard scoring pass to Donovan Peoples-Jones in the first quarter, the Wolverines’ only touchdown. Patterson threw two second-half interceptions and completed 22 of 36 passes for 236 yards and a touchdown.
Trailing by 13-10, Michigan started its first possession of the second half at its 48. The scoring opportunity was only a prelude to disappointment.
The Wolverines gained one first down before Patterson’s deep pass over the middle was intercepted at the 3-yard line by Gardner-Johnson, whose 47-yard return to the Michigan 44 put the Gators in position to score.
Kadarius Toney gained 30 yards on a fourth-down end-around to Michigan’s 5. Franks’s 5-yard scoring pass to Perine pushed Florida’s lead to 20-10.
Two plays that appeared to be Michigan touchdowns were negated after video reviews by officials.
On the Wolverines’ first possession, what appeared to be a 46-yard touchdown run by Christian Turner was turned into a modest 8-yard gain when the review showed that he had stepped out of bounds at the Florida 38. Michigan came away with no points when fullback Ben Mason was stopped for no gain on fourth-and-1.
What appeared to be an 8-yard scoring pass by Patterson to Tarik Black was taken away in the fourth quarter when the review showed that Black had lost control of the ball while falling back.
BELK BOWL Bryce Perkins threw three touchdown passes to Olamide Zaccheaus, Virginia’s defense dominated, and the Cavaliers beat South Carolina, 28-0, in Charlotte, N.C., for their first bowl victory since 2005. The bowl drought had been the longest in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Perkins completed 22 of 31 passes for 208 yards and ran for 81 yards for the Cavaliers (8-5). Zaccheaus, named the game’s most outstanding player, had 12 catches for 100 yards. Jordan Ellis ran for 106 yards and a touchdown, helping Virginia hold the ball for more than 42 minutes.
The Gamecocks were shut out for the first time since 2006, when they lost, 18-0, to Georgia.
The Cavaliers’ 14th-ranked pass defense put the clamps on a hot South Carolina offense that had averaged 38.2 points per game over the past five games. Jake Bentley had thrown for 16 touchdowns during that span, including a 510-yard, five-touchdown performance against No. 2 Clemson, but struggled without wide receiver Deebo Samuel, who elected to bypass the bowl game to begin preparing for the N.F.L. draft.
Bentley was limited to 218 yards on 17-of-39 passing and was intercepted twice. South Carolina was 2 of 13 on third-down conversions and 2 of 5 on fourth downs.
The Cavaliers controlled the ball for more than 20 minutes of the first half and built a 14-0 lead at halftime. Perkins found Zaccheaus on a fourth-and-2 in the back of the end zone for a 6-yard score, and Ellis added a 9-yard touchdown run that made it 14-0.
Perkins found Zaccheaus twice in the second half for touchdowns of 10 and 12 yards.
ARIZONA BOWL Reagan Roberson bulldozed through one tackler and dived into the end zone on an 11-yard catch-and-run in overtime, lifting Nevada over Arkansas State, 16-13, in Tucson.
Nevada (8-5) labored against Arkansas State’s defensive front throughout the game before coming to life late, going up by 10-7 on Devonte Lee’s 1-yard touchdown run with 1 minute 6 seconds left.
Arkansas State (8-5) racked up 499 yards but was 1 for 5 in the red zone with two turnovers before marching quickly down the field at the end of regulation. One of Blake Grupe’s field-goal attempts in regulation was blocked, and he missed badly on another, but he drilled a 32-yarder to tie the score on the final play.