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2008 Capital One Bowl - Michigan vs. Florida
Michigan RB Mike Hart
Michigan RB Mike Hart
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Dec 26, 2007


2008 Capital One Bowl Preview - Michigan vs. Florida

Michigan (8-4) vs. Florida (9-3)

Jan. 1st, 1:00 p.m. ET, ABC

Get Tickets for the Capital One Bowl 
- 2007 CFN Capital One Bowl Preview
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WhatIfSports.com Capital One Bowl Prediction & Box Score 

2008 Capital One Bowl History, Each Team's Best Bowl Moments, & More

National Rankings
Michigan Florida
Total Offense
74th  373.50 ypg 13th  462 ypg
Total Defense
24th  330.42 ypg 33rd  348.33 ypg
Scoring Offense
69th  26.08 ppg 4th  43.08 ppg
Scoring Defense
24th  330.42 ppg 40th  24.17 ppg
Run Offense
45th  166.08 ypg 26th  197.67 ypg
Run Defense
56th  150.75 ypg 10th  99.33 ypg
Pass Offense
73rd  207.42 ypg 33rd  264.33 ypg
Pass Defense
7th  179.67 ypg 86th  249 ypg
Turnover Margin
26th  0.50 47th  0.08
Michigan
App. State L 34-32
Oregon L 39-7
Notre Dame
W 38-0
Penn State
W 14-9
at NWest
W 28-16
E Michigan
W 33-22
Purdue
W 48-21
at Illinois
W 27-17
Minnesota W 34-10
at Mich St
W 28-24
at Wisc. L 37-21
Ohio State L 14-3
Florida
WKU W 49-3
Troy W 59-31
Tennessee W 59-20
at Ole Miss W 30-24
Auburn
L 20-17
at LSU L 28-24
at Kentucky W 45-37
vs. Georgia  L 42-30
Vanderbilt
W 49-22
at S Car W 51-31
Fla Atlantic W 59-20
Florida St
W 45-12
Position Ratings
relative to each other
M 5 highest
1 lowest
F
4.5 Quarterbacks 5
5 RBs 3
5 Receivers 4
3.5 O Line 4.5
3.5 D Line 3.5
4 Linebackers 4
5 Secondary 3
3.5 Spec Teams 4
4 Coaching 5

There are last hurrahs, and then there's Michigan in the Capital One Bowl.

Chad Henne, Mike Hart and Jake Long, three of the greatest players to ever suit up for the Wolverine offense, all came back to win a national championship (which went bye-bye after gagging to Appalachian State), beat Ohio State (0-4), and win a bowl game (0-3 so far), not necessarily in that order. Not only is this their last chance to prevent their legacy from having a "yeah, but" permanently attached to it, but it's also the last dance for the Lloyd Carr era before Rich Rodriguez comes in and cleans the big house.

Wait, he already has.

The embers still haven't cooled from West Virginia's crash and burn against Pitt, and Rodriguez has already sacked all but one of the assistant coaches. All the assistants will be around for the bowl game, and then it's the beginning of a new era, which can't come soon enough for some Maize and Blue fans. This game will either be a great last hurrah for a very proud, very unappreciated staff, or it'll signify exactly why a major, sweeping change is needed to the stodgy program.

Michigan stunk against the spread in losses to Appalachian State and Oregon, but it stuffed Illinois 27-17. Now it has to face the ultimate spread attack and a coaching staff that's among the best in the game with time to prepare. Oh yeah, and there's a Heisman trophy winner to deal with.


If it's possible, Tim Tebow hasn't just taken a back seat in the storyline department, but he's not even in the car. All he did was become the first sophomore to ever win the Heisman with an all-timer of a season, but it's all about the Rodriguez situation, it's all about the stars who haven't won anything truly big, and it's all about the Big Ten looking for some semblance of pride.

Wisconsin beat Arkansas in last year's Capital One Bowl, and Penn State beat Tennessee in last year's Outback, but it was the Florida 41-14 win over Ohio State that got the ball rolling on the nationwide Big Ten bashfest. A win for the Wolverines would do wonders for the conference, and it might be the last chance anyone touches Florida for a few years with most of the young talent maturing into a possible preseason No. 1 team in the country going into next year. An impressive win would all but assure a top three spot.

Florida might be the defending national champion, but it's hardly flawless. There's little running game outside of Tebow, the secondary can be beaten by anyone who throws with any consistency, and when smashed in the mouth, the defensive front can be shoved around. Yes, Michigan actually has the makeup to pull off what would be considered a big upset ... except for Urban Meyer.

Meyer guided Utah to an undefeated season three years ago, complete with a Fiesta Bowl win over Pitt, and won both his bowl games with the Gators. He's a master of getting his teams ready after having time to prepare. Over the last three years, if you include openers, Meyer is 13-0 when having more than a week to prepare for a game. He's turning into the ultimate big game coach, going against one who's reputation is quickly diminishing by not being able to pull off the really, really big win ever since taking home the 1997 national title. Can the Wolverines give the Big Ten its fourth straight win in the Capital One? Carr is 3-1 in the game since 1999.

Enjoy the game and get a good look at old-time Michigan football. The second the final gun sounds, the Leaders and Best will look very, very different.

Players to watch: Michigan's signature stars, Mike Hart and Chad Henne probably won't be 100%, but they'll be a whole bunch better than they were at the end of the year when they could barely play. Hart was suffering from an ankle injury suffered against Purdue to derail a certain Heisman finalist campaign. He had rushed for over 100 yards in each of the first seven games, gutted it out for 115 yards against Michigan State after missing two games, and wasn't right against Wisconsin or Ohio State. Now he should be back to the same player, while Henne, who played at times through a shoulder injury, was fine when he was able to patch himself together and play. The three bowl losses haven't necessarily been his fault, he never seemed to have a lot of time, as he threw nine touchdown passes and just two picks.

Looking to pressure Henne all game long, and occasionally matched up against Jake Long in a battle to get the NFL scouts on the edge of their seats, will be Derrick Harvey, the Gators' best pass rusher. However, he's had a disappointing year and hasn't registered a sack in five games. He has all the tools to be a next-level star, but he wasn't able to build on a huge sophomore year once he became the focus of everyone's blocking scheme. Ohio State's Vernon Gholston had a party in the Wolverine backfield and was one of the main reasons Michigan's offense stunk. Harvey needs to have a similar game.

Of course, Tim Tebow is the headliner with the pressure to to come through and break a recent Heisman bowl curse (Matt Leinart excluded). Over the injured thumb he played through late in the year, and over a shoulder problem that didn't appear to be an issue over the second half of the season, the scrutiny and the spotlight will be even greater now that he's not just Tim Tebow; he's Heisman winner Tim Tebow. He came through all year long despite being a marked man, and now Michigan has had a month to figure out how to contain him.

In charge of keeping Tebow from running wild will be Michigan's unnoticed linebacking tandem of Shawn Crable and Chris Graham, who combined for 167 tackles on the year. Graham is a smallish speedster who's good at getting to the ball, while Crable is something special packing a big wallop and with the athleticism to get into the backfield on a regular basis. Crable led the Big Ten, and was second in the nation with 26.5 tackles for loss to go along with 7.5 sacks. If these two are making stops at the line, things will be fine for the Wolverines. If they're making their stops five-plus yards down the field, there will be major problems.

Florida will win if... it gets all the periphery playmakers from running. Tebow will find a way to get his yards, but Florida is at its deadliest when Percy Harvin, Kestahn Moore and others are rolling. It's no coincidence that Florida's three losses came on its three worst running games of the year, netting 111 against Auburn, 156 against LSU and 107 against Georgia. Michigan has a reputation for not being able to stop the spread after getting ripped apart by Appalachian State and Oregon, but it stuffed the Illinois ground attack for just 137 yards with quarterbacks Juice Williams and Eddie McGee combining for 29 yards. The Wolverines never let the quarterbacks get to the outside, and it never led Rashard Mendenhall, who ran for 85 yards, from blowing through for any big gains. Michigan will be more than happy to let Tebow try to power the ball time and again.

Michigan will win if... Hart and the ground game gets rolling. Henne shouldn't have many problems against the mediocre Gator secondary, as long as he has time, but the key will be to be able to pound it early. Only two teams ran for more than 100 yards on Florida, LSU and Georgia, while Auburn ran for 99 yards, the third most allowed by the D. This is where Michigan has to play to the stereotype of punishing Big Ten football as it needs to run the ball consistently, stop the run, and use its good line to give Henne time. Michigan has no problems with this getting into a shootout.

What will happen: Does Michigan actually have enough overall athleticism to handle the Gator speed? Of course. Does that mean it'll be able to come through with one of the biggest upsets of the bowl season? Yes. Use the Illinois win as a blueprint. Michigan did a great job of taking away the options for the quarterbacks and forced the running backs to play it straight and without the misdirection and cutbacks that kill undisciplined defenses. Urban Meyer has had plenty of time to dissect the Michigan attack and come up with a scheme similar to Ohio State's, but the pass rush will be neutralized by Hart's running. This isn't last year's Florida defense, and this isn't last year's Michigan. It won't be next year's Michigan, either.

Line: Florida -10 ... CFN Prediction:
Michigan 23 ... Florida 20

2008 Capital One Bowl History, Each Team's Best Bowl Moments, & More