JOE REEDY, Associated Press
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — While Dalvin Cook didn’t make the trip to New York earlier this month as a Heisman Trophy finalist, the Florida State running back gets to take a trip the he never tires of this weekend.
The 10th-ranked Seminoles (9-3) will arrive in Fort Lauderdale on Saturday to continue preparations for their Dec. 30 Orange Bowl meeting with No. 6 Michigan (10-2). For the junior running back from Miami, who is the eighth Associated Press All-America selection under Jimbo Fisher, it is another chance to return home to South Florida and play in front of friends and family at Hard Rock Stadium.
Cook though hasn’t said if it will also mark his final collegiate game, even though it is expected that he will enter the NFL draft the week following the game.
“To finish our season off in a big bowl game in that stadium, it definitely means a lot,” Cook said.
This will be Cook’s third FSU appearance at the stadium in Miami Gardens. He has always liked playing there, but thinks the recent renovations have made it better.
“You get the crowd a little more involved with it,” he said. “A little noise gets out, but it’s so closed in (due to the roof covering the stands) you hear everything. We’re practicing for it.”
Cook is averaging 121 rushing yards at Hard Rock. In the Oct. 8 game against Miami, he rushed for 150 yards and also had a 59-yard touchdown reception in the Seminoles 20-19 win.
Trying to put up those same numbers against a Michigan defense that is ranked 13th in the nation against the run will be more difficult. In all but four games the Wolverines held opponents under 85 yards on the ground.
“It’s going to be a game where you have to be patient. You have to take the 2 or 3 yards, and get 4 yards,” he said. “We have to do a good job of that, keep your feet going, and managing the run at first. It’ll open up.”
Michigan’s players said earlier this week they haven’t faced a back yet like Cook, who comes into the game second among Power Five conference running backs with 1,620 yards and fifth in yards from scrimmage (2,046).
“I know he’s kind of a bruising back, but he’s got some speed,” nose tackle Ryan Glasgow added. “It will look like someone has him dead to rights on the edge like an overhang guy unblocked and he’ll bounce it out and stutter step them.”
Cook will leave Florida State as its career rushing leader, but there are a couple more records in his sights. He needs 72 yards to break his own single-season rushing mark which was set last season. Cook is also 284 yards away from the Atlantic Coast Conference career mark of 4,602 yards set by North Carolina State’s Ted Brown (1975-78).
Cook’s bigger goal is trying to find a way to end Florida State’s two-game losing streak in bowl games. In last year’s loss to Houston in the Peach Bowl, he was held to 33 yards on 18 carries.
“Everything is going to play itself out. If you win all those awards and don’t win those football games, it wouldn’t even matter,” he said.
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