The last time Michigan faced an SEC team in the Gator Bowl, the Wolverines stomped Ole Miss, 35-3. That was 20 years ago.
Now, No. 21 Mississippi State (8-4) gets its shot. Of course, this is a much different Michigan team, one that runs an offense that would be foreign to Bo Schembechler. And while it’s finally starting to take hold – Michigan (7-5) is sixth in the country in total offense (500.9 ypg) – a porous defense and too many losses have lots of folks calling for the head of Rich Rodriguez.
When quarterback Denard Robinson gets loose, though, Michigan is on equal footing with most anyone. Much of the focus this week by the media has been on Robinson and how MSU might can stop him. Therein, likely, lies the key to the game.
As you know, MSU’s tough against the run (121.7 ypg), and it’s played plenty of mobile QBs.
On the other side of the ball, I don’t think Michigan’s defense is physical enough to handle MSU’s offensive line and the tough running of Vick Ballard and Chris Relf. Sure, State’s woefully short-handed at receiver, but that won’t matter. It might not throw the ball more than 10-12 times tomorrow.
MSU is a 3.5-point favorite (4 points by some oddsmakers). So, I think it’ll be a close one because of Robinson. But he can’t do it all.
My prediction: MSU 33, Michigan 28.