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Game Awards: Florida State 33, Michigan 32

Tim Linafelt | December 31, 2016

By Tim Linafelt
Seminoles.com Senior Writer

Game ball: The game ball goes, as it has so many times, to Dalvin Cook. Up against one of the nation’s best defenses, Cook ran for 145 yards and caught 62 more as the Seminoles outlasted Michigan, 33-32, at the Capital One Orange Bowl. A Miami native who grew up down the road from Hard Rock Stadium, Cook earned MVP honors in front of a hometown crowd. It was his ninth 100-yard game of the season. In the process, Cook broke his own single-season school rushing record. It now stands at 1,765 yards, 146 yards better than the mark he set last season.

Play of the game: FSU had a year’s worth of highlight-reel plays on Friday night. Cook’s 45-yard deep catch after lining up as a wide receiver rates as such. So does his remarkable 71-yard run on third-and-22 that led to a touchdown. Or how about either of Nyqwan Murray’s touchdowns, one a 92-yarder that was the longest in Orange Bowl history, the other a 12-yard leaping grab over consensus All-American Jourdan Lewis. Each makes a strong case, but it’s hard to get away from Keith Gavin’s 66-yard kickoff return that set up FSU’s game-winning TD. Gavin, a freshman receiver from Crawfordville, Fla., hadn’t registered so much as a single touch this season when the kick came his way. And he committed the cardinal sin of kick returns: he hesitated. No matter – the 6-3, 225-pounder barreled through the heart of Michigan’s coverage unit and, were it not for a hamstring injury suffered on the play, might have scored. It was the perfect – and necessary – response after Michigan took its first lead just moments earlier.

Turning point: Maybe an unlikely choice, but given the wild nature of the game’s final few minutes, the kickoff following FSU’s go-ahead touchdown turned out to be an awfully big deal. Freshman Logan Tyler had an uneven night, which in part led to Michigan enjoying an average starting field position at its own 43-yard line. (FSU, by contrast, averaged its own 26.) But with the game on the line and the FSU defense needing any boost it could get, Tyler boomed a touchback that ensured the Wolverines would need to string together a few first downs if they were to have a chance at a game-winning field goal. They couldn’t do it and, four plays later, FSU took over with a win in hand.

It was over when: Carlos Becker grabbed his first career interception on Michigan’s final offensive play. Even with the odds in FSU’s favor near the end of the game, the Wolverines still trailed by just one point and had a full complement of timeouts at their disposal. But UM offense couldn’t get much going on its last drive, and Florida State’s defense put an exclamation point on a brilliant effort when Becker, a freshman from Kissimmee, dove for a deflected pass and hauled it in for Michigan’s only turnover of the game.

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