MSU Must Stop UM's Denard Robinson To Win Gator Bowl | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

MSU Must Stop UM's Denard Robinson To Win Gator Bowl

This Gator Bowl could feature programs heading in opposite directions.

Mississippi State fans will have to make a quick recovery from New Year's Eve to be in game day form for the 2011 Gator Bowl. The 21st ranked Bulldogs will face Michigan, in the first ever meeting of these two teams.

The Bulldogs have the hottest coaching commodity in college football in Dan Mullen. Nearly every high-profile coaching opening has Mullen's name attached, most notably at Florida where he was offensive coordinator under Urban Meyer and the Miami Hurricane job.

Rich Rodriguez on the other hand is not feeling the same type of love from Wolverine fans that Mullen is getting from the MSU faithful. Rich Rod was never a popular choice to take over the winningest program in college football.

After the regular season at the Michigan football banquet talk was all about how it ranged the emotional gambit from inspiring, awkward, to almost embarrassing. Rodriguez was moved to tears by Josh Groban's song, "You raise me up" while pleading his case to be the Michigan coach.

(Side note: I am not sure what it says about your coach when he listens to sappy music. I have never even heard of Josh Groban until this story broke. Maybe the sappy music and tears should be a fireable offense.)

Those who do not follow college football close might not see this Gator Bowl playing out like the 2008 Capital One Bowl. In that game, Michigan coach Lloyd Carr was on his way out the door.

The Wolverines played inspired football and beat Tim Tebow who had just become the first sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy. If this Gator Bowl is indeed Rich Rod's swan song -- and it looks like it might be -- Michigan players could be playing for their coach's job.

The players have voiced their confidence in Rodriguez, with junior defensive end Ryan Van Bergen saying it may be in some of their minds that they might be playing for their coach's job in the Gator Bowl.

"Personally, I'm all in for coach Rodriguez and everything he does," Van Bergen said. "All people see is the stuff that goes on camera. You can't understand what happens at Schembechler Hall. He cares about his players as much as any other coach in college football. That's what we like about him and why we embrace him."

If Michigan can get Stanford's Jim Harbaugh, a former Michigan player, then it matters little what the Wolverine players want. Michigan Athletic Director Dave Brandon will decide after the bowl game if he is letting Rodriguez get a fourth year.

All of this speculation has made it harder for Michigan to get ready for this bowl game. The best thing Rich Rod has on his side is quarterback Denard Robinson.

MSU fans might disagree, but Robinson will be the best player on the field in this game. While I personally do not think he will be a great pro quarterback, Robinson is an absolute beast as a college quarterback.

The Wolverines quarterback is a threat to score every time he touches the ball. He set the NCAA record for most rushing yards by a quarterback with 1,643.

Mississippi State has not faced a player with the speed Robinson has. Robinson finished with three times as many yards as the second place Michigan rusher Vincent Smith, who had 588 yards. Cam Newton is the closest thing to Robinson that the Bulldogs defense has played this season.

Robinson (2,316 passing yards) has passed for more yards by himself than MSU has passed for as a team (2,143 passing yards).

As good as Robinson has been, he has been injury prone. Another injury would leave the quarterback job to "little man" Tate Forcier.

On the plus side Michigan plays the same spread offense that MSU plays. The read-option play will be the toughest test for Bulldog defenders.

For those who do not know, the read-option is where the quarterback places the ball in the belly of the running back and the quarterback reads a key (a defensive player) and decides to let the running back carry the ball or pull the ball out and run it for himself.

This play is a staple of the spread offense and MSU runs it as well.

To keep Robinson in check the Bulldogs defense will have to play sound fundamentals. Robinson is at his best when the defense over-pursues and leaves him a gap to run through.

MSU will need Conerly Trophy winner Chris White, K.J. White and company harassing Robinson all day long forcing him in mistakes and turnovers. The Bulldogs only allow 20.3 points per game and face a Michigan team that scores 34.3 points per game.

The Wolverines have the 11th best rushing offense and face the 19th best rushing defense. Michigan also has a couple of good receivers as well.

The most explosive receiver Michigan has is Roy Roundtree who had 882 receiving yards with six touchdowns. Other Wolverine receivers to watch are Darryl Stonum and Junior Hemingway, who both finished with more than 500 yards receiving and four touchdown catches apiece.

As good as the Wolverines are on offense (ranked 6th in FBS) they have been just as bad on defense.

Football has been said to be the closest thing to war without actually going to a real war. If that is true, than the Michigan defense must be France. This unit, ranked 108th, has surrendered 448 yards per game of total offense and gives up an average of 33.8 points per game.

Mississippi State has the 16th best rushing offense, gaining, on average, 215.8 yards a game. This unit better be licking their chops to get after a team that allows 187 yards on the ground per game.

The Bulldogs should give the Wolverines a steady dose of Chris Relf, Vick Ballard, and LaDarius Perkins running the football. Establishing the running game will allow Relf to take advantage of Michigan in the play-action passing game.

If the game comes down to special teams, field goals kicking especially, MSU has a decisive edge. Anyone who has watch Michigan try to kick a field goal this year knows what I am talking about.

This is the first Gator Bowl appearance for Mississippi State and the first time since 1980 the Bulldogs have faced a Big Ten team. The last meeting was a 28-21 victory over Illinois (I love the Internet for allowing me to find useless scores from 30 years ago) in Champaign, IL.

MSU is making their first New Year's Day bowl appearance since a 1999 Cotton Bowl loss to Texas. The Wolverines on the other hand are making a bowl appearance after a two year absence.

Michigan is making its third Gator Bowl appearance and is 1-1 in the bowl all time. The last time the Wolverines were in this bowl game they defeated Ole Miss 35-3. Interesting fact, Michigan is 8-1 in bowl games in the state of Florida against SEC teams.

This MSU team if they play sound defense can reverse that trend. When in doubt about any game, I always give the nod to the team who plays better defense.

Prediction: MSU 31 UM 17

Watch the Gator Bowl on ESPN2 at 12:30pm CST and feel free to use the comment section below to make your own predictions.

Previous Comments

ID
161364
Comment

Go Blue! But Michigan has a porous defense and Big Ten defenses have been able to keep Robinson in check. It wouldn't surprise me at all if MSU wins.

Author
golden eagle
Date
2010-12-29T17:04:42-06:00
ID
161366
Comment

Golden Eagle, I for one support all Mississippi schools in playoff games or bowl games. While I do not know if you are from Michigan or just a fan, I encourage you to support our schools. It is nice to have success on a large scale and in front of a national TV audience. But if your a Michigan guy I wish your team luck.

Author
Bryan Flynn
Date
2010-12-29T17:14:40-06:00
ID
161369
Comment

Go Blue! Support MSU LOL LOL LOL Not ever. No way. No how.

Author
BubbaT
Date
2010-12-29T22:04:46-06:00
ID
161370
Comment

No, I'm not from Michigan, but I have liked them for a long time and did once date a woman who graduated from Michigan. I'm not a fan of State or Ole Miss. I'm not one who thinks that I should support all state schools just because I share the same state with them. That said, I have given MSU a reasonable chance of winning the game, mainly because of the Wolverines' defense. One thing that will hurt MSU, though, is if Michigan can somehow shut down the run game, then that spells trouble because the Bulldogs don't have much of a passing game to rely on.

Author
golden eagle
Date
2010-12-30T00:13:24-06:00
ID
161376
Comment

Personally I do support Mississippi schools in everything they do. I wish everyone else could do the same. But to each their own. Michigan has one of the worst run defenses in the country. I do not see them shutting down MSU running game. In fact, as bad as the Michigan defense is I do not see them stopping much of anything.

Author
Bryan Flynn
Date
2010-12-30T12:17:02-06:00
ID
161384
Comment

That's cold Bubba. Why can'y you pull for Mississippi State, Mississippi's largest university, which neutered the ole miss bears recently and the last two years. My family has finally gotten sick of me hating on the neutered bears. They say I have to support them the next two years as my nephew finishes up at ole miss out on progress. Sorry, I meant just ole miss.

Author
Walt
Date
2010-12-30T17:30:23-06:00
ID
161385
Comment

I forgot to add, Mississippi State will win because two of the so-called big three are on the upswing, and one is down to just four wins.

Author
Walt
Date
2010-12-30T17:32:10-06:00
ID
161389
Comment

Walt- Ole Miss will bounce back, always has,always will. State has had a good year,a rarity,and will fallback to their usual doormat of the SEC position, even Vandy has a better all-time SEC record than State...lol

Author
BubbaT
Date
2010-12-30T18:33:52-06:00
ID
161391
Comment

This bit of information came out late yesterday. Backup Michigan quarterback Tate Forcier has been ruled ineligible and is unable to play in the Gator Bowl. That means if Denard Robinson gets hurts, I do not know who will be taking snaps. I am sure someone who follows Michigan closer than I do might know.

Author
Bryan Flynn
Date
2010-12-31T09:37:52-06:00
ID
161398
Comment

They have a backup named Devin Gardner. He came in after Robinson was hurt in the Bowling Green game. Did a pretty decent job.

Author
golden eagle
Date
2011-01-01T00:17:29-06:00
ID
161404
Comment

Congratuations to Coach Mullen and the MSU Bulldog football time on an unexpected but entertaining gutting of the Michigan Wolverines last Saturday. I always felt we would win this, but the Dawgs outperformed even my expectations. Hat's off to QB Chris Relf who is a much improved ball handler from earlier this season. Also kudos for their continued respect and honoring of Nick Bell.

Author
Jeff Lucas
Date
2011-01-03T12:03:58-06:00
ID
161406
Comment

What a sweet win for State; great game for Relf and the whole offense, showing much improved balance in the offensive gameplan. The state of Michigan had a rough Saturday and play by Alabama and State helped to prove just how dominant SEC football really is. Looking forward to another great season from the Dawgs in 2011!

Author
Todd Stauffer
Date
2011-01-03T12:49:35-06:00
ID
161411
Comment

I must say that the Bulldogs did a whole lot better than I thought they would. That was a thorough dismantling of Michigan (though some of it was self-inflicted). Not only did the state of Michigan have it rough on Saturday, but the Big Ten as a whole did. All five of their teams who played on Saturday lost. Northwestern came up short in an otherwise valiant comeback against Texas Tech in the Ticket City Bowl and Wisconsin kept it close all game long against TCU in the Rose Bowl, losing by two points.

Author
golden eagle
Date
2011-01-03T15:41:08-06:00
ID
161417
Comment

Mississippi State's football team has been an nice story. The MSU basketball team on the other hand is turning into a nightmare. After two players got into a fight in the stands, both have been reinstated. But the program is attracting negative attention on a national scale. Here is an article on ESPN.com about the MSU basketball team and their coach. http://espn.go.com/blog/CollegeBasketballNation/post/_/id/20556/mississippi-state-stands-by-its-man-again

Author
Bryan Flynn
Date
2011-01-04T13:18:44-06:00
ID
161420
Comment

BREAKING NEWS: Rich Rodriguez has been fired reported by Fox Detroit. The former coach of the Michigan Wolveriens suffered the worst bowl loss in the program's proud history. Rich Rod out at Michigan. MSU sends Michigan coach to the unemployment line. But do not worry about Rich Rod, he will make 2.4 million dollars even being fired. The 2.4 million is the price of the buyout in his contract.

Author
Bryan Flynn
Date
2011-01-04T13:50:07-06:00
ID
161439
Comment

So refreshing to see a Mississippi School do good on the big stage which doesn't have ole in its name. Speaking of the ole school, one of its finest graduates got fired today from ESPN for referring to a female co-worker as baby, bake-cake or assohole or something like that. It was Ron Franklin. I remember him from my Houston days. He was sho nuff a good ole boy. Maybe he will now grow up and respect women. There are good and bad things about him though, like with most people. He apologized too late.

Author
Walt
Date
2011-01-04T17:56:37-06:00
ID
161454
Comment

Internet rummors are burning up with sources claiming Mississippi State defensive corrdinator Manny Diaz is leaving the Bulldogs to take the DC job at Texas. There has been no confirmation of this but it is widely being reported on sites that follow the Longhorns.

Author
Bryan Flynn
Date
2011-01-05T16:49:47-06:00
ID
161463
Comment

Austin American-Statesman pretty much confirms Diaz is going to Texas.

Author
golden eagle
Date
2011-01-05T20:50:59-06:00

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