It Is The Gator Bowl

Submitted by Brian on December 5th, 2010 at 7:53 PM

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Y'all ready for this? oonts oonts oonts oonts

So you know this already because I'm slightly late because I thought they'd embargo the news until the "Bowl Selection Specials" about to drop on the teevees, but Michigan is going to play Mississippi State in the Gator Bowl. Press release:

Football to Face #21 Mississippi State in 2011 Gator Bowl on New Year’s Day

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The University of Michigan football program will participate in the 40th bowl game in program history, facing No. 21 Mississippi State University in the 2011 Gator Bowl played at EverBank Field on New Year’s Day 2011. The game will kick off at 1:30 p.m. EST and will be nationally-televised by ESPN2.

“We are excited about representing the Big Ten Conference in the Gator Bowl,” said Athletic Director Dave Brandon. “Our players, coaches and football support staff have worked hard all season and this is a great reward for them. We have great alumni and fan support in the Sunshine State and I anticipate a large Michigan contingent in Jacksonville.”

This will be the third time that Michigan has played in the Gator Bowl. The Wolverines’ initial appearance came on Dec. 28, 1976, a 17-15 loss to North Carolina. Michigan evened its Gator Bowl mark with a dominating 35-3 victory over Mississippi on Jan. 1, 1991.

The Wolverines (7-5, 3-5 Big Ten) will face the Bulldogs (8-4, 4-4 SEC) for the first time. This will be the 30th time that Michigan faces a SEC school (23-5-1 record all-time), with the Wolverines compiling a 7-3 mark against the conference in bowl games.

This is the first year of a four-year agreement between the Big Ten, SEC and the Gator Bowl. Visit www.gatorbowl.com for more information on the 2011 Gator Bowl.

The Wolverines have compiled a 19-20 record in bowl games and will be looking to even their mark with a victory in the Gator Bowl.

Ticket Information: The U-M Athletic Ticket Office will begin selling tickets to the 2011 Gator Bowl on Monday, Dec. 6, at 8:30 a.m. EST. Tickets range from $60 to $125, and will be assigned based on the Victors Club priority point program. Fans can purchase tickets online at MGoBlue.com/tickets or by calling the ticket office at 866-296-MTIX or 734-764-0247.

Alumni Tour: The Alumni Association is taking reservations for the official University of Michigan Bowl tour at 877-513-2320 or http://www.michigansportstours.com. PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS TOUR WILL INCLUDE GAME TICKETS. You can also find information about the U-M bowl pep rally featuring the team, marching band and cheerleaders and a pre-game tailgate at www.umalumni.com or by calling 800-847-4764.

Comments from Michigan Head Coach Rich Rodriguez

About playing in the Gator Bowl … “We are excited about the opportunity to play a very good Mississippi State team in the Gator Bowl. They run a first-class operation and our players will really enjoy the experience. I’ve always enjoyed my previous experiences at the Gator Bowl.”

About playing Mississippi State … “Mississippi State is a great team and has been consistently ranked among the top 25 this season. Dan Mullen and his staff have done an outstanding job. It should be a great matchup and we look forward to playing them on New Year’s Day.”

About his past trips to the Gator Bowl … “I have been fortunate to have coached in several Gator Bowls and I also played in it. They do a great job of hosting the teams and making the bowl experience a memorable one for the players. I look forward to seeing many of the Gator Bowl representatives who have become friends over the years.”

So instead of Florida's dysfunctional offense and loads of talent Michigan gets the offensive braintrust behind the Gators' most recent run and… not so much talent. As far as matchups go, I actually watched that 10-7 MSU win over Florida earlier in the year, and in that game the number of passing attempts the Bulldogs put up in the second half was either zero or one. I can't remember exactly. They're 91st in pass offense but decent in efficiency because they have a run-pass breakdown nearing Pat White WVU territory—with 561 runs against just 265 passes, MSU runs 68% of the time.

Starting quarterback Chris Relf had to fend off a challenge from Tyler Russell early in the year; Relf is a dual threat sort, Russell a pocket passer. Relf's MSU's second leading rusher with almost 700 yards. Vick Ballard and LaDarius Perkins are both over 500 yards as well, with Ballard the clear preference near the goal line with 16 touchdowns. They run an offense similar to Illinois, with a lot of triple option. The rush offense is 16th nationally but only averaging 4.6 YPC—not bad, but not awesome.

An extremely rush-oriented team with a somewhat erratic quarterback is as close to a "good" matchup as Michigan's broken defense will get. So we've got that going for us.

Their defense is good against the run—they're giving up just 3.5 YPC—but not so good against the pass, at least in terms of yardage. They're 89th in yardage but 50th in efficiency.

As far as their season went, they were 8-4 but their best nonconference game was against 5-7 CUSA team Houston and they narrowly escaped from their game against UAB by kicking a couple of fourth quarter field goals to win by five. In the SEC they missed Vandy, South Carolina, and Tennessee but went up against the loaded west. Games against LSU and Alabama did not go well but they were the only team to hold Auburn under a billion points in a 17-14 loss; they also took Arkansas to double overtime.

FEI has them 33rd, with Michigan 47th. S&P, which tends to favor explosive plays, has Michigan 30th and Mississippi State 35th. By the numbers it's an even matchup. More tomorrow.

Comments

wiper

December 5th, 2010 at 8:02 PM ^

i've been refreshing here over the course of the day, and had heard 'rumors' of MSU elsewhere.

so i'm sitting here, and my wife goes: 'mississippi state huh?' and i told her we don't know yet, but it looks like it.

she says, 'no, i'm Facebook friends with Michigan Football, and that's what it says, here look'

got scooped by MY WIFE!!! HAHA

bronxblue

December 5th, 2010 at 8:14 PM ^

Sounds like a nice matchup.  If Martin and the rest of the defense can heal up and focus on a running-heavy team (like they did against UConn), I think they'll be in it.  At this point, a better toss-up game than against Florida or any of the highly-ranked B12 teams.

Dolokhov

December 5th, 2010 at 8:24 PM ^

Well, as a firm supporter of retaining Rich Rodriguez, I really like this match-up, as I think a healthy/healthier UM team has a really good chance of performing well, particularly after 15 more practices for our young secondary and a full month-plus from the OSU game for Mike Martin to heal up those ankles and return to his early season form. Really looking forward to this New Year's Day game! 

briangoblue

December 5th, 2010 at 8:29 PM ^

I definitely prefer this game against a team perceived to be having a big year with a rising star head coach. A win against beaten down Tennessee or Florida would've rang hollow and told us much less about the state of the program. Oh, and to my MSU loving cousin- Motor City Bowl is where 7-5 Spartan teams go, not Michigan. People actually care about our team. Once again, your education has left you ill-equipped to deliver knowledgeable taunts.

M-Wolverine

December 5th, 2010 at 8:32 PM ^

But I've been banging the drum that a win is more important than "fun" at this point, so I'll take it. The defense they have worries me. If they can do that to Auburn, they can do that to us. And it doesn't matter how bad their offense is...just pencil them in for 30. So it's solving their D and making the early November Offense return.

ATLWolverine

December 5th, 2010 at 8:38 PM ^

Denard and the offense vs. the Defense that mostly stifled Cam Newton and the #1 Tigers!

The first January football for Michigan since 2008!

A make-or-break game for our head coach's job security!

One of the brightest up-and-coming spread coaches vs. the OG of the spread offense!

Big Ten vs. SEC!

Michigan vs. a Ranked Team!

M-Wolverine

December 5th, 2010 at 8:51 PM ^

Denard and the offense vs. the Defense that mostly stifled Cam Newton and the #1 Tigers! - yeah, doesn't help for a win we so desperately need.
<br>
<br>The first January football for Michigan since 2008! - which would be true no matter the opponent in the game.
<br>
<br>A make-or-break game for our head coach's job security!- I GUESS that's exciting. Not the subplots I would like (even if the decision hasn't already been made).
<br>
<br>One of the brightest up-and-coming spread coaches vs. the OG of the spread offense! - problem is hardly anyone knows or cares about this, so the credit we get will be pretty nil.
<br>
<br>Big Ten vs. SEC! - Frankly, Michigan not vs. the SEC would be more unique in a bowl lately. If admittedly less successful.
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<br>Michigan vs. a Ranked Team! - see the first one.

ATLWolverine

December 5th, 2010 at 8:32 PM ^

This MSU team has a pretty good resume; in addition to holding Auburn to 17 points, it didn't lose to a team outside of the top-20 this year (!).

This will be a pretty good bellwether game, I think, for seeing the state of the program.

GO BLUE!

goody

December 5th, 2010 at 8:33 PM ^

Best case scenario. Not a highly ranked B12 team that got screwed by the BCS but an average SEC team that Michigan has a real chance to beat.

ATLWolverine

December 5th, 2010 at 8:42 PM ^

I still say Florida would be both more winnable and a better program win. MSU hasn't lost to a team outside the top 20, remember. Relatively solid team with a few flaws, versus Florida, which is a catastrophe on offense and a rolling bucket of butcher knives on defense.

DEFINITELY agree this draw is better than a ridiculous Big-12 team like Okie State, though.

M-Wolverine

December 5th, 2010 at 8:54 PM ^

I don't remember their shoulda-been-playing-for-the-National-Championship team apologizing for playing our worst team in almost 20 years. So I wouldn't have minded returning the favor vs. their stinker.

MGoShoe

December 5th, 2010 at 9:37 PM ^

...fun facts:

  1. Mississippi State refers to their rival, Ole Miss as That School Up North or TSUN. Sounds familiar. 
  2. Their all time winning percentage and W-L-T record are 0.47930 and 490-534-39
  3. They have crappy blogs.
  4. Ole Miss bloggers write things about MSU (Starkville) that sound remarkably like a Michigan blogger writing about MSU (East Lansing).
  5. Their traditions are somewhat slim. The most well known is their affinity for cowbells
  6. Their fight song, "Hail State" is a strange amalgamation of Michigan and MSU (EL) and implores the team to "...yell like H-E-L-L!", while their alma mater is "The Maroon and White". Hmmm.
  7. With an enrollment of 19,644, it is Mississippi's largest university.

  8. The University is a land-grant college and began as The Agricultural and Mechanical College of the State of Mississippi (or Mississippi A&M). It was created by the Mississippi legislature on February 28, 1878, to fulfill the mission of offering training in "agriculture, horticulture and the mechanical arts . . . without excluding other scientific and classical studies, including military tactics." The university received its first students in the fall of 1880.

  9. According to this guy

• MSU has fulfilled its 15,000-ticket allotment – in fact, Stricklin said 16,000 tickets have been ordered, so he's asking the Gator Bowl for more. As for student tickets, he sent out an e-mail to them tonight, and there will be a lottery Tuesday night because of the limited number.

• Michigan has a ticket allotment of 12,500.

MaizeAndBlueWahoo

December 5th, 2010 at 9:32 PM ^

The more I think about it the more I like this matchup.  I don't think you could have picked a better combination of beatability and respect gained from beating them in any other 8-4 team.

magnus_caerulus (not verified)

December 5th, 2010 at 9:33 PM ^

According to the Espn college football brain trust tonight, we have another "Michigan" can't win against a better SEC team. 

StraightDave

December 5th, 2010 at 9:33 PM ^

I am working in Miss at this time and watched MSU (not that MSU) play a few times and I think this could be a long day for UM.   A month away so anything can happen but MSU is not that bad. 

bdneely4

December 5th, 2010 at 9:51 PM ^

but watching Relf this year, he has a similar style of play to Pryor, but he is a worse thrower.  I did not think that was possible as I saw some awful passing out of Pryor often this year.  Against us of course.

GO BLUE!  BEAT MSU (Not that MSU)

COB

December 6th, 2010 at 9:49 AM ^

a win will mean nothing and a loss would be embarassing.   That is the worst case scenario in my mind.  That would take all the cache from the possible win and give major negative connotations to the loss.  If the retention decision really has yet to be made, RR could theoretically survive a loss in a very close, hard faught game (with Dan Mullen coaching).  If it is a lame duck interim coach, I really don't see any way a loss is seen as anything but disaster and RR would be on his way out.  I guess it depends on what you want out of that situation.  I would prefer UM beat MSU at full strength because...well, fuck the SEC, thats why. 

Wolverine In Exile

December 5th, 2010 at 9:52 PM ^

1) We're playing on New Year's Day

2) We beat a (worst in the history of the concept) BCS team this year, UConn.

Other than, that, I'm looking forward to it! Do you think Shannon will have the cover-2 installed in time for kickoff? :)

snoopblue

December 5th, 2010 at 9:55 PM ^

This game is scary. Hopefully Denard's shoulder is healed because this game basically depends on his arm. Maybe Denard and Tate can platoon? I've seen MSU have a hard time defending big TEs, like Webb and Koger, they could have big games. They have a pretty good defense, weak against the pass. Their offense is generally a rush offense, so we can live and die with the blitz and let our young secondary try to make some plays. YIKES! Hard to predict a shootout with how our offense ended the season. Can't wait. GO BLUE!

Ukrainedog

December 5th, 2010 at 9:59 PM ^

Following opposing blogs is almost as much fun as the actual game!  I have a couple of observations: We (MS State) played Auburn so early in the season that I don't think they understood what they had in SuperCam.  I'm not sure the score would have been that close had we played them later in the season.  Don't read too much into State's offensive production in the Florida game-  just because we shoved it down their throat with the Run game in the 2nd half doesn't mean we can't throw the ball.  Our games versus Arkansas and Ole Miss are better indicators of our offensive balance.  From what I've seen, facing Denard will be pretty similar to facing Cam and the best we can hope for is to slow him down.  Our D has been pretty good; porous at times but it bent more than it broke.  We'll be playing without our top two receivers (Berry and Bumphis) but we had some guys step up in the Ole Miss game.  More than anything else it should be a fun match-up between a traditional power in UM and an SEC school that played a top 5 schedule this year.