The SEC/Big 10 showdown had an exciting start but ultimately, to quote Andre 3000, “The South got somethin’ to say.” The Florida Gators annihilated the Michigan Wolverines 41-15 to win the SEC-Big 10 conversation and the 2018 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl in Atlanta, GA. The annual bowl game sponsored by ‘the chicken of the South’ packed 70,000+ inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Michigan caught a few bad breaks early which definitely affected momentum. A holding call here and there would drive any coach insane but an early touchdown was called back after video replay showed the runner went out of bounds. That turned an early touchdown to a 3rd and 1 and that’s pretty much how the game went for Michigan.
With a number of players sitting out and the team possibly still feeling the effects of the Ohio State game, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh was confident in his squad. “I thought they were ready,” he said simple and plain.
By halftime, the score was 13-10 in Florida’s favor, even though the Wolverines were first to strike. By the time the second half began, it was quite clear that Florida was not going to be stopped.
“I don’t know anybody — I don’t know a lot of teams that would be lining up to play us right now,” said Gators coach Dan Mullen after the game. “Week in, week out, you don’t have an off week. You got to show up and play your A-game every week. You’re prepared to play, and play big games like the one we played in today. That’s what kind of playing in a league does for you.
The name on everyone’s lips was Chauncey Gardner-Johnson. The defensive back played an incredible game and came up with two big-time interceptions and a touchdown to change the momentum of the game.
The running game was effective for Florida while the passing game worked better for Michigan. While neither quarterback had an impressive outing, those two interceptions and 14 missed targets by Michigan’s Shea Patterson was definitely a part of the Wolverines problems offensively. Needless to say, Harbaugh was not amused.
[Coach Harbaugh on what went wrong offensively] “Combination of things. Started out not picking up in the third and short and the fourth and very short. That hurt. That hurt one drive. We were moving the ball at times and close to getting into a rhythm, but we didn’t get the run game going effectively enough. Or the passing game, the protection, and the rhythm in that area to make it — we got outplayed, really, on that side of the ball. Florida did a nice job defensively.”
Both schools finish with 10-3 records but Jim Harbaugh is now 1 for 9 when Michigan faces Top 10-ranked competition.
There are still two big games left today in Notre Dame/Clemson and Alabama/Oklahoma. I don’t know about you but I’ll be looking for the “Gardner-Johnson” of those two matchups for sure.
Photo: Hakim Wright