Fanpicks.com College Football Bowl Game Preview
BUFFALO WILD WINGS CITRUS BOWL
Michigan vs. Florida
Fanpicks.com is proud to bring you the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl game preview featuring Michigan against Florida. Talk about excitement, these two teams will certainly play their hearts out in a very close game which will be won by Michigan 21-20 over Florida. Play the best fantasy college football contests at Fanpicks.com.
Florida coach Jim McElwain and Michigan counterpart Jim Harbaugh resurrected dormant programs in their first year on the sidelines and look to cap off encouraging campaigns with a victory when the Gators and Wolverines meet in the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Fla., on Jan. 1. McElwain led Florida to the SEC Eastern Division title before losing 29-15 to College Football Playoff participant Alabama in the SEC championship game, while Harbaugh had Michigan in contention for the Big Ten East Division crown heading into the final week of the regular season. Defense has been the catalyst for the dramatic turnaround for both teams as the Gators rank eighth nationally in scoring defense (16.4 points per game) while the Wolverines are fourth in total defense (281.3 yards).
Florida’s offense has sputtered without suspended quarterback Will Grier as the Gators were held to 17 points in their last two games, and couldn’t manage an offensive score in the 27-2 setback to Florida State on Nov. 28. Michigan’s Jake Rudock suffered a shoulder injury in the 42-13 loss to Ohio State, and it was initially feared that he would miss the bowl game, but the senior quarterback will make his final collegiate start on New Year’s Day. Rudock struggled with the command of a new offense after transferring from Iowa before ending the season on a tear by throwing for 1,296 yards and 11 touchdowns in his last four games.
The Wolverines and Gators have meet twice previously in the postseason with Michigan emerging 38-30 victors in the 2003 Outback Bowl before downing Florida 41-35 in Lloyd Carr’s final game as coach in the 2008 Capital One Bowl. The Gators last met a Big Ten team in 2012 when they beat Ohio State in the Gator Bowl and McElwain, who is one of six finalists for the Dodd Trophy – awarded to the top coach in the country – is keen to lead Florida to its third straight win over a Big Ten opponent. “We’re here to win a ballgame,” McElwain told reporters. “We aren’t here just to go on rides.”
MICHIGAN Season Overview (9-3, 6-2 Big Ten): Jake Butt and Jourdan Lewis announced they will return for the senior seasons after the junior tight end caught 48 passes for 620 yards and three touchdowns, while the junior cornerback was ranked third nationally with 19 pass breakups. Safety Jabrill Peppers (two rushing touchdowns, eight receptions), who won the Big Ten Freshman of the Year award after making an impact as a three-way player, could miss the bowl game after suffering a suspected hand injury. “He’s working through something,” Harbaugh told reporters. “We’ll see.”
FLORIDA Season Overview (10-3, 7-1 SEC): Starting quarterback Treon Harris has struggled to move the ball through the air and has failed to throw for 200 yards in each of his last three games. Vernon Hargreaves III, who is the Gators’ first unanimous All-America pick since 2009, will likely play his last game as the junior cornerback is considered a surefire first-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. Defensive end Alex McCalister has been sidelined with a foot injury since Nov. 15 and will likely miss the game while wide receiver Brandon Powell is questionable because of a foot problem.