2008 Capital One Bowl Preview and Pick

Michigan Wolverines (8-4) +10, 60 O/U vs. Florida Gators (9-3) -10,
60 O/U, Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium, Orlando, Florida, 1 PM Eastern,
Tuesday January 1st

by Badger of Predictem.com

The Michigan Wolverines, who are still searching for a new head
coach, travel down to the state of Florida to play Heisman Trophy
winner Tim Tebow and the Florida Gators in this seasons Capital One
Bowl on New Years Day.

The Wolverines are still looking for a new leader after current head
coach Lloyd Carr announced his retirement following the Ohio State
game on November 17th. The on-again, off-again courtship of LSU head
coach Les Miles has overshadowed the fact that Michigan enters their
bowl game on a two-game losing streak, the last lose being the 14-3
decision to the Buckeyes.

Florida will be riding a wave of excitement as quarterback Tim Tebow
became the first sophomore ever to be named the Heisman winner on
December 8th. Tebow and the Gators were playing some of their best
football of the season near the end, winning four in a row including
their finale versus in-state rival Florida State, 45-12, on November

Florida opened the Capital One Bowl as a 10.5-point favorite.
Oddsmakers also opened the game with a 63-point over/under total.

Florida enters the game as a big favorite due to an offense that
finished the season ranked 13th in total yards (462 ypg) and 4th
overall in scoring at 43.1 points per game. One of the main reasons
Tebow won the Heisman was because of his 838 yards rushing, 3,132
yards passing and 51 touchdowns (22 rush, 29 pass) all team-highs
for the Gators. Running back Percy Harvin is also a duel threat (599
rush, 781 receiving), and nine other players on the Gators roster
scored multiple touchdowns, so they are more then just Tebow on offense.

The offense Michigan puts on the field in this game will be extremely
different than the one that finished the season. Quarterback Chad
Henne and running back Mike Hart struggled at the end of the regular
season, to put it mildly. With Henne unable to throw with his
separated shoulder, and Hart unable to cut and burst of his bum
ankle, to Michigan offense was easy to stop. Both of them have had 45
days to heal, so expect a lot more from this unit then the 373.5
yards (75th) and 26.1 points per game (70th) they ended the season

Floridas defense this season didnt quite live up to the
expectations of last years title team. The unit struggled versus the
pass (87th 249 ypg) and in the pass-happy SEC, thats not a recipe
for success. The Gators did finish 33rd overall in total yards
allowed (348.3 ypg), but slipped a little in points allowed with a
24.2 average (41st).

Michigans defense should pose a decent challenge to the Gators, as
their end of the year numbers (330.4 ypg allowed 25th; 20.2 ppg
23rd) still were respectable enough to land them in the top 25. What
should be interesting to watch though is how Florida decides to
attack the Wolverine defense. Michigan was 7th in the NCAA versus the
pass (179.7 ypg), but a meager 58th versus the run (150.8 ypg), so
dont be surprised if Tebow ends up with more carries then throws in
this one.

The last time these two schools faced each other was in the Outback
Bowl back in 2003. Michigan won the game 38-30 and covered the -1.5-
point spread as well.

This season the Gators have been the better team for sports bettors,
cruising to a 8-3 ATS record including four in a row to finish the
year and 6 of their last 7. They are hot, as they say. Floridas
offense has also gone over the total in eight of their 11 games this
year, and had a string of six overs in a row snapped in the finale
when Florida State could only muster 12 points.

Michigan has been hard to bet on this season, finishing 6-5 ATS
overall and failing to cover their last two games versus Wisconsin
and Ohio State. As you would expect with the injuries on offense and
the strength on defense, Michigan is a strong under play going under
the total in 7 of their 11 games this season.

A quick look at some of the betting trends give the exact opposite
take on the over/under stats just mentioned. Florida, the strong over
play all season, is actually a better under team (9-4) in their last
13 non-conference games. While Michigan, the strong under play, is
apparently an over team in January because the over is 8-1 in the
Wolverines last 9 bowl games and 7-1 in their last 8 games in January.

Most bookmakers have adjusted the spread in this game to Florida -10 since it opened, meaning
the early money was on the Wolverines. A few Las Vegas Sportsbooks have
even dropped it to 9.5. The total has moved down quite a bit, dropping from
63 to 60 as the sharp bettors snapped up the extra field goal cushion. You
might even be able to find an offshore sportsbook with 59.5 for a total.

Badgers Pick: This is one of three SEC-vs.-Big-10 matchups in bowls
this year, and just like the other two, it should be an interesting
contest of contrasting styles. Florida has the powerful offense, but
Michigan has a stronger defense. The key to this game will be if the
Wolverines can keep it close into the fourth quarter. If they can,
expect them to grind it out with Hart and their big, physical
offensive line. Thats if Florida doesnt run them out of the stadium
before then. Florida wins this one, but Michigan gets a late score
for a backdoor cover. Take Michigan plus the points.