Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
Gardner took a beating all season and is most likely out for the bowl game
The injury to quarterback Devin Gardner puts Michigan’s prospects for this game in serious jeopardy. Gardner, suffering from turf toe, hasn’t practiced since the week of the Ohio State game. Add to the mix offensive lineman Taylor Lewan being investigated for a possible assault stemming from an incident after Michigan’s last game, as reported by the Ann Arbor News' Kyle Feldscher, and Brady Hoke’s team has had to contend with major distractions while preparing for a scrappy Kansas State team.
Michigan really doesn’t want to be here. After entering the final month of the season with sights set on the Big Ten championship and a Rose Bowl berth, the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl is a disappointment. Former coach Rich Rodriguez took Michigan to New Year’s Day bowl game (Gator) in his third season and was fired by athletic director David Brandon.
Despite Michigan’s November collapse, Brandon has publicly endorsed Hoke, but make no mistake: Next season begins now. Hoke and his coaching staff are under intense scrutiny by a fanbase dismayed by the success of arch rival Ohio State and Big Ten Champion Michigan State.
With Gardner ailing, Michigan needs a big performance from backup Shane Morris. An embarrassing loss could damage future recruiting and add to the discontent in Ann Arbor.
Dominate the game, be Michigan
Michigan showed that it has the talent to play with the top teams in the nation, but only when its offensive line steps up. In a blowout loss against Michigan State the offensive line was shredded; versus Ohio State the offensive line played better and Michigan nearly won.
Michigan needs to dominate with its superior talent. No sleepwalking or daydreaming about what could have been—early season scares versus Akron and UConn have shown that Michigan can play down to anyone.
The offensive line showed signs of life versus Ohio State—further improvement could give Morris the time he needs to succeed.
Pressure the Kansas State Offense
The Kansas State offense got on roll, winning five out of its last six games and averaging 37 points scored per game. Michigan can’t get into a shootout with Kansas State—it needs to put the pressure on early and never let up.