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January 1, 2011

College Football Bowl Picks - Gator Bowl:

Gator Bowl

Michigan (7-5) vs. #21 Mississippi State (8-4)


1:30 PM, ESPN 2, Jan. 1, Jacksonville, FL

Why Watch: The Wolverines have become a team with a large question hanging over their heads. What kind of Michigan defense is going to show up, and how long will the offense be able to bring in long scoring drives? Mississippi State is an unknown team to a lot around the nation. The Bulldogs put together a nice 8-4 season in the SEC, though, winning games over Florida and Kentucky, while holding Auburn to 17 and bringing Arkansas to overtime.

Who to Watch: There’s no doubting that Mississippi State has a defense to hang with the Wolverines. They proved that against Heisman winner Cam Newton earlier this season. The question surrounds their offense. For Miss. State to get the ball moving and hang with Robinson and Michigan, running back Vic Ballard is going to need to find some room to run. With 892 yards on the season, Ballard has proven capable. For Michigan, if there is one player that needs to step up on their dreadful defense, It’s defensive lineman Mike Martin. Martin plays with a nonstop motor and often is the lone bright spot on Michigan’s defense.

How it’s Going Down: With so many questions surrounding both teams, Michigan’s on defense, Mississippi State’s on offense, it’s hard to put a finger on how this one is going to turn out. Denard Robinson has had a much needed month off to rest for his beaten body, so his in-and-out performance to end the season shouldn’t be a factor. For Mississippi State, a lot is riding on the performance of quarterback Chris Relf. He’s a big duel threat QB, much like Cam Newton, but without the speed. Relf passed for just 1,500 yards on the season, but his best passing games came in the last two games of the year. If Relf has a good game, which I think he should, the Bulldogs will win. Once again the Michigan defense will let down the Wolverines. Pick: Mississippi State 34 – Michigan 28

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