Monday, December 31, 2007

Citrus Bowl Preview

I realize it's now the Capital One Bowl, but I don't agree with corporate naming of bowl games so I'm choosing to go with Citrus Bowl. "You can't spell Citrus without U T" just wouldn't be the same any other way.

Lloyd Carr's farewell
The end of an era
Mike Hart and Chad Henne and Jake Long finish their Michigan careers
Urban Meyer pretends to be nice after badmouthing Michigan last year

There are lots of ways to look at this game. Normally, I'd break down all the statistics and come up with a pretty good guess of the outcome and Michigan's chances for victory. Not this year folks. It's not that I don't care. It's that I'm afraid of looking at the numbers. Michigan sucked this year. It started from the first game and continued the last game. I prefer to just look at some of the possibilities in this game and what they might mean.

For one, this is definitely the end of an era at Michigan and it actually saddens me quite a bit. Lloyd Carr is without a doubt one of the absolute best people in college football. His kids go to class. They graduate. They work hard. They develop as people. They contribute to the community. They come back year after year because they love the school and program so much. Lloyd is the last in a line going back to the day Bo was hired in 1969. It's an unbroken string of Big Ten championships and power football that dominated the Big Ten and culminated in a national championship in 1997.

Rich Rodriguez is going to usher in a new era at Michigan. That's exciting, but it's also a little scary. As long as I've been alive, the rest of the Big Ten knew what Michigan was going to do to them on Saturday and they were pretty sure that they couldn't do anything about it. Michigan also held their own against Ohio State in the greatest rivalry in college football, sometimes momentum swung one way (9-1-1) and sometimes it swung the other (current 4 game winning streak for OSU). There were Heisman trophies on offense (Desmond) and defense (Woodson). It's a hell of an era that is coming to a close. In the end, Lloyd Carr just refused to change a little too much in the changing landscape of college football.

So what do I expect from this game against Florida? Who the hell knows. It could be ugly. Florida has a lot of talent and scored a lot of points this year with their Heisman winning dual threat quarterback Tim Tebow. Michigan never fares well against mobile QBs and has quite the bowl losing streak going. Everybody expects Florida to win in a romp. Well, almost everybody. The guys wearing the Maize and Blue are going to fight tooth and nail in this one. And that's the last little bit of hope that I have left. I've seen them at their best and they can beat anybody. Whether or not they will is another story.

So what needs to happen for Michigan to win? Here are my keys to Michigan pulling the monumental upset:

1) Make Tebow one dimensional. Do not let him beat you running the ball. There is a huge responsibility to the LBs and DL to actually get Tebow on the ground when they get a chance. He's a big boy and hard to bring down and we've missed a lot of tackles on QBs this season. Shawn Crable and company absolutely have to come up big in this one.

2) Healthy Mike Hart. If Michigan Mike can stay healthy, he will churn out the yards. And nothing makes a Lloyd Carr offense more dangerous that a solid running game. You can pretty much pencil him in for 150 yards in the culmination of his record setting career if he can stay healthy.

3) Let Chad Henne air it out. They need the 2006 OSU gameplan in this one. The coaches have to know they need a lot of points and then to cut Manningham and Arrington and Mathews loose on the Gators secondary. This is no time to be conservative against a Gator D that is suspect against the pass and hasn't seen a group of WRs like Michigan will throw at them.

4) Special teams. Need a big game from the coverage units against Brandon James and it wouldn't hurt to break one themselves.


I can't do it. It's too painful to type what I expect to see happen. The only difference is that after this game nobody will be calling for the coach to get fired.


God that was sweet to watch in too many ways to count. The most obvious is congrats to Lloyd Carr for a wonderful career. I'll have many, many more thoughts on it at some point in the next few days.



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