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This Week at The Wolverine Den
Florida at Michigan
Mercedez Benz Stadium
December 29, 2018 - 12:00 p.m. ET
The University of Michigan Wolverines will finish the season with a trip to the Peach Bowl in Atlanta. It will be the Wolverines 47th bowl game, but the first time to the Peach Bowl. It has been a season of ups and downs for Michigan – finishing 7th in the nation with 10 wins but losing to Notre Dame to start the year and Ohio State to end the year. There was much improvement in the team but the loss in Columbus has left a bad note on the team and the fan base. A rebound in the bowl game is critical in making sure that the team has the right momentum going in to the offseason in preparing for next year.
The opponent is the Florida Gators. Florida finished tied for 2nd in the SEC East, losing to Kentucky, Missouri and Georgia. Their best wins were against Mississippi State and LSU. First year coach Dan Mullin is from the Urban Meyer coaching tree, having been an assistant under Meyer at Bowling Green, Utah and Florida before taking over as the Mississippi St head coach in 2009. Mullin’s only game against Michigan as a head coach was in the 2011 Gator Bowl. Florida is 22-21 in bowl games but have lost their two previous trips to the Peach Bowl.
The Wolverine Den Trivia
how many bowl games have been attended by The Wolverine Den staff?
Florida’s offense is a run-first group that uses the spread option. The offense has improved dramatically under Mullin while the defense continued to be good. It was a promising year for the Gators – not an elite team, but they are improving. The QB is still Feleipe Franks. Franks was the 5th rated QB in the high school class of 2016 (Shea Patterson was the #1 QB that year and Brandon Peters was #6). Franks’ stats this year are remarkably similar to Shea’s. The rushing attack is powered by Jordan Scarlett and Lamical Perine, who combined for over 1,400 yards.
Florida’s defense has limited weaknesses. Jachal Polite and Zabari Zunuga have combined for 17 ½ sacks this year. The secondary ranks 11th in the nation in pass defense and the linebackers are fast. The kicking game is also effective – punter Tommy Townsend averaged about 45 yards per punt and freshman kicker Evan McPherson converted 15-17 feld goals wth a long of 48.
As we all know, Michigan will be without 4 key starters, who are not playing because they are heading to the NFL draft – or because they are injured. For the Wolverines to be successful, we will need some of the younger players to step into key roles. Fortunately, Michigan has the depth on both sides of the ball to fill in the gaps. While you can’t replace Rashan Gary, Michigan was without him for a number of key games this year – and the back ups gained valuable experience. I see Michigan using the pass to open up the run – and Shea is set to have a great game. This is still a very young team and if the nucleus returns next season, we should see even further improvement. Throw in the highest rated recruiting class in the school’s history (according to ESPN), and we are continuing to move forward. This will be a close game but one that should reward the Wolverines for their hard work this year. Only 9 times in Michigan’s storied history has the team finished with 11 or more wins in a season. This will be #10.
Michigan and Florida have met just four times with Michigan holding a 4-0 record. Michigan is 25-9-1 all-time against the SEC.
The Wolverines are a 6 point favorite
Great Moments in Wolverines - Bowl Game History
- 1902 Rose Bowl. Michigan had 527 yards rushing – led by Willie Heston’s 170 yards and Neil Snow’s 4 TD’s – in the 49-0 win over Stanford in the first Rose Bowl game.
- 1978 Rose Bowl. Rick Leach to Curt Stephensen for a 76-yard TD pass – the longest in Michigan bowl hstory.
- 1980 Rose Bowl. Butch Woolfolk’s 182 yards rushing helping Michigan give Bo his first bowl win 23-6 over Washington.
- 1988 Hall of Fame Bowl. John Kolesar’s TD catch late in the 4th qtr and Jamie Morris’ 234 yards rushing led Michigan past Alabama 28-24.
- 1989 Rose Bowl. Leroy Hoard’s 142 yards and 2 TD’s led to a 22-14 win over USC.
- 1991 Gator Bowl. Michigan had 715 total yards of offense – a single game team record – in the 35-3 win over Mississippi.
- 1993 Rose Bowl. Tyrone Wheatley had 235 yards rushing (on only 15 carries) in 38-31 win over Washington.
- 1998 Rose Bowl. Brian Griese to Tai Streets for 2 long TD’s to help Michigan win the National Championship.
- 1999 Citrus Bowl. Ian Gold’s interception and return for a TD in the win 45-31 over Arkansas.
- 2000 Orange Bowl. Tom Brady to David Terrell ten times as Michigan overcomes Alabama to win in OT 35-34.
- 2003 Outback Bowl. Chris Perry had 193 yards (108 receiving, 85 rushing) and 4 touchdowns to lead Michigan over Florida 38-30.
- 2008 Capital One Bowl. Chad Henne threw for 373 yards and Michigan beat Heisman-winner Tim Tebow 41-35 in Lloyd Carr’s final game as coach.