5 Thoughts - 2008 Capital One Bowl
Michigan RB Mike Hart
Michigan RB Mike Hart
Posted Jan 1, 2008

Talk about going out with a bang, only a few key turnovers kept Mike Hart and Michigan from blowing out Florida in the Capital One Bowl. With the win, the legacies of Hart, Chad Henne, Jake Long and Lloyd Carr are changed forever.

5 Thoughts - Capital One Bowl

Michigan 41 ... Florida 35

Michigan 41 ... Florida 35
2008 CFN Capital One Bowl Preview
- 2008 Capital One Bowl History, Each Team's Best Bowl Moments, & More

By Pete Fiutak   

1. They didn’t beat Ohio State, but they closed things out with a stunner. Mike Hart, Chad Henne and Jake Long came back to Michigan for their senior season to finally win something of substance. They were 0-3 against the Buckeyes, 0-3 in bowl games, and were going down as one of the most talented trio of Wolverine players of all-time that never accomplished anything. One tremendous performance against Florida changed all that, and it might have changed the perception of Michigan football just as the Lloyd Carr era ends. Now it’s hard to call the Wolverines slow, stodgy, and unable to play with the big boys. Florida isn’t as good as it’s going to be next year, but it’s still Florida, and Michigan’s offense blew the doors off the Gator defense. This wasn’t just going out with a win; this was going out with an explosive bang to take the stigma and the “yeah, but” off the careers of three tremendous players.

2. Now the Lloyd Carr era is cast in a completely different light. Not only did he close out his fantastic, unappreciated career with a win, but he did it against one of the brightest coaching stars in the game. Urban Meyer had never lost a bowl, hadn’t lost over the last few years when he’s had a week or more to prepare, and had a hot team with the Heisman winner and a young defense that had started to jell by the end of the season. A well-motivated coaching staff on its way out the door came up with a gameplan of gameplans, keeping Henne from getting hit on a regular basis and opening huge holes for Hart, while the defense pressured and bothered Tim Tebow more than he’d been hassled all year. Rich Rodriguez’s life just became ten times harder. Had Michigan been blasted, he would’ve had a honeymoon. No more.

3. It’s a shame Henne and Hart weren’t 100% over the second half of the regular season. Of course, Henne was just fine in the losses to Appalachian State and Oregon while Hart was a bit hobbled, but the team progressed as the year went on even with their two stars hobbled. This was a different Michigan team than the one that got stopped cold by Ohio State, and it goes to show just how good Henne and Hart were when they were right. It also helped that the interior of the offensive line owned the Florida tackles from the word go.

4. Can we now put to rest the whole misguided notion that the Big Ten is slow and unathletic compared to the SEC? Just because Percy Harvin can fly, that doesn’t mean the Big Ten can’t run. Last year’s Ohio State team was just as fast and possibly even more talented pro prospect-wise than Florida and got its doors blown off. This year’s Michigan team doesn’t have the overall team speed of this year’s version of the Gators, or last year’s Wolverine team that lost to USC in the Rose Bowl, but that didn’t seem to matter. The top SEC teams have looked and played faster over the years because they’ve been really, really good. Really, really good teams, no matter what conference they’re in, get to the level they’re at because they have a slew of great athletes and a ton of next-level talent. The 2006 Gators came into the BCS Championship game with a phenomenal gameplan for both sides of the ball, and Ohio State never had a prayer. Michigan came into the 2008 Capital One Bowl fired up, well coached, and able to execute. It had nothing to do with speed or athleticism on one side or the other.

5. What would happen to the Heisman voting if it was done after the bowl games? Darren McFadden was average in the loss to Missouri in the Cotton Bowl, and Chase Daniel was lousy. Tebow threw for three touchdowns and ran for 57 yards and a score, but now Hawaii’s Colt Brennan has a shot to make a statement that he probably deserved the award. If he can pull off the win against Georgia in the Sugar Bowl, then history might view Tebow’s historic win as the first sophomore to ever with the Heisman much, much differently. If Brennan stinks and Hawaii gets blasted, then who should get the post-bowl Heisman vote? That’s what the offseason debates are for.