After yesterdays all-star lineup of great bowl games, today there’s just a single game. Fortunately it should be a great one. The Sugar Bowl features the Brady Hoke led Wolverines who are back in a BCS bowl for the first time since 2007 facing Frank Beamer and the Hokies who have been in a bowl an astounding 19 consecutive years after only going to 6 before Beamer took over. He’s 8-10 in that streak, and here’s how I see this one going
Bowl Breakdown: This won’t be the Rose Bowl or the Fiesta bowl in terms of scoring as both these programs come in with very solid defenses.Virginia Tech was 13th in the nation in total defense allowing 313.9 yards per game.The Wolverines were 18th at 317.6, an incredible turnaround after finishing 110th a season ago.
Virginia Tech’s offense is focused on Jr. running back and ACC player of the year David Wilson. Wilson and the Hokies were remarkably consistent throughout the year, except in two ugly losses to Clemson. VA-tech lost at home to the Tigers 23-3 on October 1 and then again in the ACC Championship on December 3, 38-10. QB Logan Thomas struggled mightily in that championship game and turned the ball over 3 times. Thomas will look to bounce back and I do expect him to have a good game as he closes out his Sophomore season.
One of the keys to Clemson’s 2 wins over VaTech was QB Tajh Boyd playing well, and Michigan will look to get a solid game from Denard Robinson who has excelled in both the passing game (2,000 yards, 18 TDs) and in the running game (1,100 yards, 16 TDs) and will prove difficult for the Hokies to contain. He’ll be joined in the backfield by RB Fitzgerald Toussaint who also ran for over 1,000 yards.
Both teams want to run the ball, and both teams can stop the run (MI ranked 36, VT 15) so I expect a low-scoring game with lots of possessions and field position playing a big roll in team’s decisions. They’ll try to avoid turnovers and let their defenses carry them. Neither team throws the ball a lot, and when they have they’ve had mixed results so if one team falls behind it will be difficult for them to play catch up.
I’m going to pick the Wolverines in this one, since their schedule was tougher, they’ll be looking to save the Big 10′s woeful offseason, and I think Denard Robinson will have a huge game against the Hokies D that struggled with dual threat QB Tevin Washington of Georgia Tech (although he’s not as effective as Robinson passing the ball). It will be an entertaining, well-played, defensive struggle, and I see Michigan winning 24-17
Pro Prospects: As we get to the bigger bowls in our Bowl Mania series there are more high-end prospects. There aren’t any in this one though that are currently projected in the first 2 rounds.
Virginia Tech’s Jrs Jayron Hosley-CB and David Wilson-RB might work there way into the 2nd round if they declare early and do well in the pre-draft process. Michigan’s Mike Martin-DT (Jr) and David Molk-C could be 3rd round picks or early 4th round selections for teams with needs along the front lines.