Gator Bowl Preview
By Guest Blogger Tyler Fenwick:
The Gator Bowl, played in Florida, is a traditionally rich bowl game. And this year, it will play host to Mississippi State and Michigan.
The Bulldogs are sporting an impressive 8-3 record with a top 25 ranking in all three major polls.
On the other hand, Michigan has had more of an up-and-down season. While a 7-5 record pretty much meets the early expectations, they certainly had chances to improve on that.
These two teams find even bigger differences in play-maker rolls. Michigan, of course, has the electrifying Denard Robinson. But Mississippi State has an excellent all-around team effort, with no one star.
I’ll start with the obvious. For Michigan to find success, they will need to go to what has been working all year: Denard “Shoelace” Robinson. He really has to show up against a team that only allows 20 points a game. The Bulldogs don’t really have a weakness of defense. So this means it will have to be a game where everyone gets involved. We know Robinson has a supporting cast, but being there and showing up are two different things.
Most people have given up on the Michigan defense. And I’m one of them. But, there would be no better time to see some defensive stands from the Wolverines. With a second half offense, the D needs to make stops often and early.
For the Bulldogs, they too have something that has worked all year: running the ball. The passing game hasn’t really been there for them this year, leaving them to run the ball a lot. But, that’s not a bad thing when you average 215 yards per game on the ground. The Michigan defense has been incredibly bad at stopping the run this year, and I can’t see things improving a whole lot from the Ohio State game.
What to expect: Expect Mississippi State to run the ball often and with success. Vick Ballard (RB) has an incredible opportunity to get to the 1,000 yard mark. He could go for 150+ yards by the time this one is all said and done.
For Michigan, expect to see Denard Robinson play in a similar fassion that he did early in the season. It’s unlikely that he will have that much success, but it’s the extra umph in his step that could really do some damage.
Defensively, don’t expect to see anything different from what we’ve been seeing all year.