5. Florida DL Jachai Polite vs. Michigan QB Shea Patterson (Peach Bowl)
Lost in a season in which Florida’s defense finished sixth in the SEC in yards per play allowed and sixth in first downs allowed, was the growth of junior DL Jachai Polite.
In his first full season as a starter, Polite proved to be a menace on the Gators’ defensive line, racking up the second-most tackles for loss in the SEC (18), the third-most sacks in the SEC (11), and the most forced fumbles (5) out of any defensive player in the country.
Polite’s ability to get after the quarterback presents an intriguing matchup against Michigan’s QB Shea Patterson, who is ostensibly a different passer when pressure is applied.
According to Pro Football Focus, Patterson posted a 124.4 Passer Rating with a clean pocket this season, the 8th highest rating in the FBS. Meanwhile, Patterson’s Passer Rating dropped to 89.6 without a clean pocket.