Capital One Bowl

Capital One Bowl

2007 Capital One Bowl Preview
by T.O. Whenham

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

Conference matchup: SEC vs. Big Ten
Date: Jan. 1, 2008, 1 p.m.
Location: Citrus Bowl, Orlando, Florida
Spread: Florida -10

As a Michigan fan this game is pretty much my worst nightmare. The team is coming off a disappointing season with banged up stars and a coaching search which is quickly becoming as much of a mockery as the last year has been. Now they get to play Florida, which has an offense couldn't be a worse matchup for the Wolverines. In other words, it's hard to get excited about watching this game. These two teams met on the same day in 2003. Michigan was favored by 1.5 that day and they won by eight while dominating on the ground. It will be a different game this time around.

Florida can cover if: they decide they want to. The Gators' potent offense, even if it does depend very heavily on Tim Tebow, should have a great day against Michigan if it is focused and on its game. Tebow is more of a danger to run than almost any quarterback in the country. The list of teams that have beaten the Wolverines in recent years with a dynamic offense headed by a mobile pivot is long - Texas, Ohio State, Oregon, Appalachian State. Florida can be as creative as any team, and Michigan has never dealt with that particularly well. If Florida sticks to their game, and is able to keep Michigan's defense guessing and uncomfortable, they will be fine. Defensively, Florida will have to focus on keeping Mike Hart under control. Florida is strong against the run, and they will have a huge edge if they can stop Hart from taking his team on his back like he has so many times over his career. One possible distraction for Florida is the distraction of the award season that will take up so much of Tim Tebow's time. We've seen quarterbacks recently - Matt Leinart, Troy Smith - who have struggled after picking up a wheelbarrow full of hardware. On the other hand, the Gators embarrassed the best of the Big Ten last year, and this Michigan team is a giant step below that level, so they should be fine.

Michigan can cover if: Hell freezes over. Okay, it isn't quite that bad, but Michigan has a lot to overcome to do well here. The team comes into a basically meaningless bowl game after a very frustrating season that wasn't nearly as successful as the team hoped. Both their quarterback and their running back have a long way to go before they are healthy. The time off should help them heal, but it remains to be seen how sound they are. It's very doubtful that the preparation time will be enough for the team to figure out how to do what they haven't been able to do for several seasons - stop a mobile quarterback. This game comes down entirely to the ability of this team to stop Tebow. That hasn't happened often this year. Michigan's woes are compounded by the fact that Lloyd Carr will be a lame duck in this game. It remains to be seen how effective he will be when he is on his way out, or how focused his coordinators will be as they try to figure out what their future holds. It comes down to this - Michigan can cover, and even win if they play the best game that they have played all year. It's up to you decide if that is likely.

General notes: This is Michigan's fourth trip to this bowl, which was previously known as the Citrus Bowl before corporate sponsorship got out of hand. They won in 1999 and 2001, and lost in 2002. Florida is making their fifth appearance, with two wins and two losses. They most recently lost to Michigan State in 2000. Both teams have the propensity to slump. Florida lost three of their middle four games, while Michigan twice lost two in a row, including their last two.

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Re: Capital One Bowl

Capital One Bowl: Michigan Wolverines vs. Florida Gators

- Tim Tebow won the Heisman and expects to play in Florida against next season, but he still wants a bowl win. The Michigan Wolverines want to win for outgoing coach Lloyd Carr, who managed the team through a humiliating opening loss to win eight of the next 10 and earn a spot January 1 in the Capital One Bowl.

Michigan was held to 89 yards in a 14-3 loss to Ohio State last time out, falling as 4-point home underdogs. The 17 points scored were UNDER the posted total of 46.5.

Chad Henne was 11-for-39 for 68 yards, and Mike Hart added 42 yards on the ground for the Wolverines.

Florida scored 21 unanswered points in the second half of a 45-12 win over Florida State last time out, covering the 14-point home spread. The 57 points scored were UNDER the posted total of 59.5.

Tim Tebow was 20-for-29 for 265 yards and three touchdowns, and Percy Harvin had 224 combined yards and a score for the Gators.

Team records:
Michigan: 8-4 SU, 6-5 ATS
Florida: 9-3 SU, 8-3 ATS

Michigan most recently:
When playing in January are 5-5
When playing on grass are 7-3
After being outgained are 5-5
When playing outside the conference are 6-4

Florida most recently:
When playing in January are 6-4
When playing on grass are 7-3
After outgaining opponent are 9-1
When playing outside the conference are 10-0

A few trends to consider:
Michigan is 8-2 SU in its last 10 games
Michigan is 4-2 ATS in its last 6 games
Florida is 6-1 ATS in its last 7 games
The total has gone OVER in 6 of Florida's last 7 games
Florida is 16-3 SU in its last 19 games

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Re: Capital One Bowl

Capital One Bowl
By Brian Edwards

Capital One Bowl

Florida (9-3 SU, 8-3 ATS) vs. Michigan (8-4 SU, 6-5 ATS)

How they got there:

Florida won four consecutive games both SU and ATS to end the regular season. The Gators won each of those games by 20 points or more, scoring 45 or more each time out.

Two of UF’s losses came to top-five teams with Georgia winning a 42-30 decision in Jacksonville, while LSU rallied from three different double-digit deficits to beat the Gators by a 28-24 count in Baton Rouge. Florida’s only home loss, the first of Urban Meyer’s tenure, came to Auburn by a 20-17 score on a walk-off field goal as time expired.

Michigan won eight in a row following a nightmare start to the year. The Wolverines lost to Appalachian St. in their opener and then got trounced 39-7 by Oregon. Both of those defeats came at the Big House in Ann Arbor.

However, Lloyd Carr’s team didn’t close shop, responding with the eight-game surge that included wins over bowl-bound schools like Penn St., Illinois, Purdue and Michigan St. Unfortunately for Michigan, it lost back-to-back games – at Wisconsin and vs. Ohio St. – to end the season, prompting Carr to announce his retirement.

What to expect:

Michigan will be well represented but there’s no doubt that it will be a partisan UF crowd in Orlando, just a 90-minute drive from Gainesville.

The Wolverines will be geared up to send Carr out on a good note. Also, they have to feel disrespected by their status as double-digit underdogs.

Bettors should expect to see a lot of points. The ‘over’ is on a 6-1 run for the Gators. Players to Watch:

Florida sophomore quarterback Tim Tebow is the catalyst of UF’s electric offense. He became the third player in school history to win the Heisman Trophy. Tebow became the first player in NCAA history to run and throw for 20 touchdowns, finishing the season with 29 TD passes and 22 TDs rushing. He threw just six interceptions and has a career TD-INT ratio of 34/7.

The scary thing for Michigan is that UF’s offense has plenty of weapons besides Tebow. For instance, sophomore WR Percy Harvin and senior WR Andre Caldwell are probably the fastest players on either squad. Harvin scored eight TDs (five rushing, three receiving) and produced 1,380 yards (781 receiving, 599 rushing) from the line of scrimmage despite missing three games. Caldwell had 52 catches for 721 yards and five TDs.

Michigan has one of the best running backs in the country in Mike Hart, who rushed for 1,232 yards and 12 touchdowns. Hart averaged 5.3 yards per carry.

The Wolverines have a four-year starter at QB in senior Chad Henne, who posted a 14/7 TD-INT ratio this season. For his career, Henne has a remarkable 84/35 TD-INT ratio.

Bowl Records:

Florida has won both of its bowl games under Meyer, who has a 4-0 career record in bowls. The Gators beat Iowa at the 2005 Outback Bowl and thumped Ohio St. 41-14 in last year’s BCS title game.

Michigan has lost four consecutive bowl games, including last season’s 32-18 loss to USC at the Rose Bowl. The Wolverines last win in a bowl came at the 2002 Outback Bowl, where they beat Florida 38-30 as one-point favorites.

Bowl History:

Since 1993, this has been a Big Ten-SEC matchup each year. Big Ten schools have won three in a row, but the overall ledger is in favor of the SEC by an 8-7 count.

The Gators are 2-2 in this game dating back to its days as the Tangerine Bowl. They most recently lost a 37-34 decision to Michigan St. in 2000.

Michigan has a 2-1 record in this game, but the Wolverines got clubbed 45-17 by Tennessee in their last visit in 2002. They beat Auburn 31-28 in 2001 and bested Arkansas 45-31 in 1999.

Inside the Line: Florida -10.5, 59

How long has it been since Michigan has been listed as a double-digit underdog? Not since 1998 when Ohio St. dealt out a 31-16 clubbing as a 10-point home ‘chalk.’

Las Vegas Sports Consultants opened the Gators as 10 ½-point favorites with a total of 58. The number has fluctuated in the 10-11 range since coming out. As for the total, it quickly went from 58 to as high as 62 in early December, but recent action on the ‘under’ has the tally back at around 59.

Expert Opinion: - Christian Alexander

“The number looks high at first, but I think it’s justified,” Alexander told VI. “Michigan’s defense has its work cut out against Tim Tebow and Co. The Gators averaged more than 51 points and 500 yards in their last four games. And remember, Michigan had all sorts of trouble against an Oregon team that had a similar spread offense and mobile QB (Dennis Dixon).”

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Re: Capital One Bowl

Michigan trio of Hart, Henne and Long can end skid against Florida
January 1, 2008

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -One last shot.

That's all Mike Hart, Chad Henne and Jake Long have to avoid another blemish, which would linger with them for the rest of their lives.

Michigan's senior stars can't do anything about their winless careers against Ohio State, but they have one final chance to end their bowl-game skid.

It won't be easy.

No. 9 Florida is a double-digit favorite to win the Capital One Bowl on Tuesday, essentially at home, against the Wolverines.

If Michigan can pull off an upset in coach Lloyd Carr's finale on the sideline, it would be even sweeter - especially for the trio on offense.

Hart and Henne have broken virtually every school record for running backs and quarterbacks at college football's winningest school. Long has been so dominant as an offensive tackle that he's arguably one of the school's all-time best regardless of position.

But an 0-8 record against the Buckeyes and bowl opponents would diminish their legacy in a program that prides itself on Bo Schembechler's mantra: the team, the team, the team.

Is that fair?

Hart and Long both acknowledged it was before the season started, while Henne has insisted how they fared against their rival or in the postseason should not make or break their legacy.

The reality is, right or wrong, if they're winless in their biggest games people will say, ``Yeah, but...'' and will point out that fact when sports fans in the future are arguing about who were Michigan's best running back, quarterback and offensive linemen.

A win over the Gators gives Hart, Henne and Long a better chance to stack up accomplishments with the top Wolverines ever.

Hart became Michigan's career rushing leader this season and broke a record with eight straight 100-yard rushing games before a high-ankle sprain slowed his season. The team MVP ran for 1,232 yards, giving him 4,911 in his career to lead all active players and trail just three in Big Ten history.

Perhaps Hart's most incredible feat was extending his streak without losing a fumble to 993 carries, dating to his first conference game as a freshman.

Henne moved to the top of the Wolverines' all-time list for touchdown passes (84), completions (803) and yards (9,342) during his injury-plagued season. He is 21 attempts away from another school record. And with his first snap, he'll tie Rick Leach's school mark of 47 starts by a quarterback.

While his record against Ohio State and in bowls can be questioned, his toughness cannot.

Henne injured his right knee in the second game of the season, leading to him miss 2 1/2 games. The All-Big Ten quarterback later led the Wolverines to a win at Illinois - the Illini's only conference loss - despite playing with a separated shoulder.

Long's career has simply been as spectacular as it could have been at a position that does not attract much attention. Like referees, offensive linemen are usually only noticed if they make mistakes. That's why Long has been out of the spotlight.

Long gave up only on sack this season and two in the past 25 games, helping Henne set records. He routinely blocked defensive linemen and linebackers 10-plus yards down the field, enabling Hart to run to his left through canyon-like holes.

The two-time All-American is the first offensive linemen to be recognized as the Big Ten's best twice since Ohio State's Orlando Pace more than a decade ago.

Even though Hart, Henne and Long are judged by what they do in games, they do deserve credit for leaving Michigan with diplomas and without a public brush with the law or school officials.

They want more than that, though, and are hours away from their last chance to walk off a college field as winners.

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