BCS Bowl Predictions: Michigan Will Prove It Got Lucky
When the final BCS results came out, the No. 13 Michigan Wolverines should have considered themselves lucky getting into the Allstate Sugar Bowl to take on the No. 11 Virginia Tech Hokies.
For one, they should feel lucky that they even made an at-large bowl game. The other reason is that they are pitted against the Hokies, who are by the far the easiest opponent among all the BCS teams.
The Wolverines still have a lot to prove to the nation going into this game, despite going 10-2. This season, they dropped games against the Iowa Hawkeyes and Michigan State Spartans, whose loss to the Wisconsin Badgers in the Big Ten title game put them below Michigan.
Whether or not the Wolverines deserve to be here, they have been given a great opportunity to make a name for themselves to finish out the 2011 season.
All one can say is that Michigan got lucky. Here is why...
They Shouldn't Be in This Game
Although the Michigan State Spartans defeated the Michigan Wolverines 28-14 back in October, they were not selected above Michigan in the final BCS rankings or for the BCS spot in the Sugar Bowl.
Going into championship weekend, both teams were standing at a record of 10-2. Before the Big Ten championship game against the Wisconsin Badgers, the Spartans were ranked No. 13 in the nation while the Wolverines were ranked No. 16.
Since the Spartans lost to the Badgers, they fell to 10-3. As a result, they fell behind the Wolverines in the final BCS rankings. It really wasn't fair to penalize the Spartans for making it to a title game, to only be knocked out with a loss.
The thing that doesn't make sense is that they jumped Michigan State in the final BCS standings because the Spartans lost in an extra game.
Both teams had pretty much the same schedule. The main difference is that the Spartans had to play the Badgers twice, while the Wolverines didn't have to face the top team in the Big Ten once.
For this reason, the Wolverines should feel lucky.
They Really Shouldn't Be in This Game
In the final BCS rankings, the Michigan Wolverines ended up being ranked No. 13 in the country. The fact that a team outside of the Top 10 made an at-large bowl just isn't right.
According to opposingviews.com:
At No. 13, Michigan is the lowest ranked at-large selection that the BCS has ever had, tying the 2007 Illinois team that went to the Rose Bowl. The difference is that in 2007, Illinois was the Big Ten’s second-best team, and the league winner (Ohio State) was in the National Championship Game. Conference ties pushed the Rose Bowl into taking the next best Big Ten option.
There were many teams that could have been considered contenders for this spot. The Wolverines clearly have a huge following, so there was an incentive there. Still, even a team like Oklahoma seemed like a better choice, as the Sooners were consistently in the Top 10 the entire season. They were only one spot behind the Wolverines in the final BCS rankings.
Besides the outside chance of the Sooners jumping into the picture, teams like the Boise State Broncos and Kansas State Wildcats were passed up—both of which were in the Top 10.
Teams like the Arkansas Razorbacks and South Carolina Gamecocks were much higher in the rankings, but they were ineligible because of the BCS rules. Otherwise, there wouldn't be a discussion here.
The Wolverines finished out the season on a strong note, so it is understandable why they moved up. It just isn't convincing that they were the best team to play in a BCS bowl game.
The Wolverines are a good team, but based on the BCS, they really shouldn't be here.
While we are at it, the Hokies really shouldn't be in this game either.
The BCS Doesn't Like Boise State
After going 11-1 this season, the No. 7 Boise State Broncos were expecting to make an at-large bowl this season. Instead, their one loss to the TCU Horned Frogs held them out of contention, and they had to settle for the MAACO Bowl in Las Vegas.
The Broncos didn't have a tough schedule, but with a win over the Georgia Bulldogs in Week 1 and nearly a perfect record, many had tagged them as going to the Sugar Bowl.
Since the Mountain West Conference doesn't get an automatic BCS bid, the Broncos were not considered for the Sugar Bowl despite being ranked above the Michigan Wolverines and Virgina Tech Hokies in the final BCS standings.
If the Broncos had received the bid like many had expected, the Wolverines and/or Hokies likely would be playing elsewhere this bowl season.
They Got Virginia Tech
No offense to the Virginia Tech Hokies, but the Michigan Wolverines really lucked out in this matchup. Between all the other teams that are playing in this year's at-large bowl games, as well as those that could have potentially been selected for the open SEC slot, there really was no opponent easier than the Hokies.
Teams like the Standford Cardinal, Oregon Ducks, Alabama Crimson Tide and Oklahoma State Cowboys are all much tougher competition in comparison.
While the only likely opponent of the four would have been the Crimson Tide, as they represent the SEC, the Wolverines lucked out considering that no SEC team could automatically make it with both the Crimson Tide and LSU Tigers in the BCS title game.
The Hokies did go 11-2, but considering they lost twice to their biggest opponent, doesn't fare well for them. Twice this season they played the Clemson Tigers, who were ranked both times. In both games combined, the Hokies were outscored 61-13.
The Hokies really shouldn't even be here, as Clemson destroyed them in the ACC Championship Game, 38-10.
They only played one other ranked team during the season, which was the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. They won that game 36-27, but ultimately the Yellow Jackets didn't turn out to be the team many had thought they were. They finished the season with an 8-4 mark.
Denard Robinson Will Light Them Up on the Ground and in the Air
The threat that is Denard Robinson should be enough to overwhelm the Virginia Tech Hokies defense. On the season, the Michigan quarterback has not only thrown for 2,056 yards with 18 touchdown passes, but he has also run for 1,163 yards with 16 rushing touchdowns.
Robinson is averaging 268.25 total yards per game.
He is a dual threat that has proven to be impossible to stop. The Hokies haven't been up against a team that has a threat like Robinson, so they are likely going to be working on stopping him.
Only problem is, no one has.
He is averaging almost three touchdowns a game and has been impossible to stop in his last three games.
Robinson has thrown 14 interceptions on the season, but never has that effected his results. In three games of throwing at least two interceptions, Robinson is 3-0 this season.
The Wolverines played a tough end of the year schedule against the Nebraska Cornhuskers, Illinois Fighting Illini and the Ohio State Buckeyes. In those three games, Robinson scored 11 times in both passing and rushing.
From the look of things, this guy can't be stopped.
The Wolverines Have a Better Defense
Despite both teams being neck-in-neck for points allowed per game, one could argue that the Michigan Wolverines mark of 17.2 points allowed per game was more impressive considering their schedule.
The Virginia Tech Hokies also allowed only 17.2 PPG, but they really didn't have too many tough opponents considering they play in the ACC.
This season, the Wolverines had to play teams like the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Northwestern Wildcats, Michigan State Spartans, Nebraska Cornhuskers and an Ohio State Buckeye team that was starting to get hot.
The Wolverines did lose to the Iowa Hawkeyes, as they were able to contain the running game.
Meanwhile, the Hokies' only difficult tasks this season were the Clemson Tigers and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. The Hokies did have a nice 38-0 defeat over the Virginia Cavaliers, but still none of those games even come close to the schedule and points allowed that Michigan maintained.
Michigan Has Proven It Can Slaughter a Team That Plays Below Them
In games where the Michigan Wolverines overwhelmed their opponents, they manage to outscore them 305-89.
Against the Virginia Tech Hokies, the Wolverines should once again be able to dominate on their weaker opponent. When the Hokies played the Miami Hurricanes back in October, they were unable to stop their run and pass attack. The Hokies did win the game 38-35, but they were outmatched on the field.
Both Hurricanes coach Al Golden and Wolverines coach Brady Hoke run a pro-style offense. If the Hurricanes were able to have that much success moving the ball and scoring, one could imagine that the Wolverines stand a chance to expose the Hokies defense, once again, for what it really is.
On the season, the Wolverines are averaging 34.5 PPG, while the Hokies are putting up 28.5. The Hokies are putting up a respectable number of points, but the Wolverines can out gun them with their high-paced offense.