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Bowlapalooza 2015: Citrus Bowl Preview - #14 Michigan Wolverines v #19 Florida Gators

We're going to preview the Big Ten bowls one way or another. Next up, the Michigan Wolverines take their five wins into Orlando, Florida to take on the Florida Gators.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

You know you'll be watching, if only because seeing big name programs smash into each other means 1) good imagery and 2) someone who you like seeing annoyed will be somewhere annoyed by the end, or middle, of this game. It's a win-win.

But will it be too damn ugly too enjoy??

Where is this bowl game?


Orlando Citrus Bowl Stadium


Check out the official website here

When is this game?

January 1, 1:00 PM Eastern, ABC

Who is in this game?

A 9-3 Michigan team, powered by ball control and power football and a very stout defense...Michigan's head ball coach, Jim Harbaugh, instituted four hour practices and for the first time since 2006, helped the Wolverine's offensive line not be terrible.

A 10-3 Florida team, missing its QB but featuring some of the best defenders in all of CFB. Coached by Jim McElwain, the SEC Coach of the Year, Florida should be a powerhouse yearly, just like Texas, or Michigan, get the point. But offense has been hard to come by in the Swamp, so the defense presents as the real key to this Gator squad.

You know the deal here: Florida's beating of Ole Miss behind Will Grier was the high point of it's season. "Finally, a talented Gator QB," you said, only to see his "banned substance" suspension end his career at Florida. Three losses to LSU, Florida State, and then 'Bama showed an offense that couldn't run or pass. Quarterback Treon Harris is definitely not the answer here -->

Quarterback Treon Harris was the biggest problem once again.

He was inaccurate and indecisive for the fourth consecutive week. Starting his 12th game and sixth straight since Will Grier was suspended for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs, Harris missed wide-open receivers all over the field, held the ball too long and played with the awareness of a freshman.

Michigan peaked right around the 59:50 mark of the MSU game; had the Punt 6 not happened, a top 5 Michigan team would have been playing OSU at home for a chance to play in the CFB Playoffs. But, it did happen, along with a host of injuries that made Michigan's front 7 less than stellar (41 points given up to Indiana, 42 more to Ohio State).

What's in it for the Big Blue and its fans?

The impact of this game is surprisingly low. Michigan's season has been considered an unquestioned success; no Harbaugh life-meltdowns, a bowl game on New Year's Day, and improvement in every aspect of the program. Even the recruiting process is going more gangbusters than usual (Scout has it as the #1 class in America).

So if the Wolverines lose? Too bad, keep moving. This was the rebuilding year that outshone all expectations.

If they win? The first 10 win season since 2011-12, a signature victory for Harbaugh over a big-game program...Good feelings all around.

What's in it for the fans?

Do you like watching NFL-level defenders? This game is for you! Check out the SBNation Mock Draft, you'll find a few participants in this game:

#5 Overall Pick: Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida

#30 Overall Pick: Jonathan Bullard, DT/DE, Florida

You'll also love All-Big Ten performers Jake Butt and *Jehu Chesson, B1G Frosh of the Year Jabill Peppers, and All-American corner Jourdan Lewis. There is some amazing talent on this field...Chesson's emergence (which paralleled the rise of MSU receiver Aaron Burbridge, another All-B1G WR with tremendous talent) has been a lot of fun to watch - athletic catches on the sidelines, huge games...

Do you like watching conservative playcalling? This game is for you! No way Harbaugh throws out the kitchen sink in this game against a Florida team without a functioning offense.

Bullet points that don't fit the above but should fill in the details

STATS FROM ALLIGATOR ARMY --> "It also shapes up as a defensive struggle: Florida is No. 8 nationally in scoring defense, and Michigan checks in at No. 10, but the Gators are No. 98 in scoring offense, and Michigan just No. 54."

The Big Ten and SEC have four solid matchups this bowl season: MSU v Bama, UM v Florida, NW v Tenn, and UGA v PSU. The eye test says Bama, UM, Tenn, and UGA win...But the heart test says B1G B1G B1G B1G B1G!

Will Florida throw out some kind of yet-unseen wrinkle that will surprise Michigan? Probably not; we didn't see much out of the ordinary against Florida State and Alabama. The Gators run a pro-style offense that is meant to confuse via formations and adjustments. When Grier was lighting the world on fire, the route combos and tight end blocking served to confuse and pound defenders. When Grier went out, and injuries mounted, Florida basically looked toothless, featuring a QB who couldn't complete passes and made bad decisions.

I consider Florida's Orange helmet, paired with all white or all blue jerseys, one of the best looks in CFB.

The pick

Michigan 24 - Florida 14... Michigan leans on Florida, running the ball and electing to punt on 4th and shorts from midfield to play ball control. Florida's inability to convert third and longs stop the Gators from sustaining drives.