Gator get a familiar opponent in Peach Bowl

465 days ago the Florida Gators lost the 2017 season opener to the Michigan Wolverines 33-17. The score was closer than the actual game that day but, my have things changed in Gainesville.

The No. 10 Florida Gators will get a chance to redeem themselves when they take on the No. 7 Michigan Wolverines in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.

Dan Mullen took over a 4-7 Gator team and turned them into a 9-3 team that is playing in a prestigious bowl game. Michigan, on the other hand, was ranked as high as No. 4 in the country and was playing for a chance to make the College Football Playoff for the first time under Jim Harbaugh. A 69-39 dismantling by rival Ohio State ended that hope but the Wolverines will still play in a New Year’s Six bowl game.

Here’s a quick snapshot at the Michigan Wolverines.

Michigan Notes
Defensive tackle Rashan Gary will not play in the Peach Bowl. The junior has dealt with a shoulder injury this season that cost him three games in October. Gary is tied for fifth on the team with 44 tackles.

South Florida native Devin Bush also has a decision to make. Bush is one of the best linebackers in college football and leads Michigan with 79 tackles this season. Bush has stated that he needs to talk with his family and coaches before he makes a decision. If Bush would decide to declare for the draft and skip the bowl game it would leave Michigan’s No. 2 ranked defense without its two best players.

No McElwain
Former Florida head coach Jim McElwain spent this past season coaching wide receivers for the Wolverines. On Sunday McElwain was announced as the new head coach at Central Michigan. Jim Harbaugh stated on Sunday that McElwain will not coach the Wolverines during the lead up to the Peach Bowl nor would he be on the sidelines for the game.

“I want to say I really like Jim a lot,” Harbaugh said of McElwain. “I’m really excited for him and I think it’s a great fit.”

McElwain will be introduced at Central Michigan on Monday afternoon.

Familiar opponent?
Florida and Michigan have only played each other four times but all of those meetings have come in the last 15 years. This will be the third time the schools have played since 2016. In that span Michigan will have played Florida more times than conference foes Minnesota, Iowa, Purdue, Illinois, Nebraska and Northwestern. Similarly Florida will have played Michigan more times in that span than conference opponents Alabama, Auburn, Arkansas, Texas A&M and Auburn.

Dan Mullen has only coached against Michigan once during his career. He led a 52-14 win over Rich Rodriguez’s Wolverines in the 2011 Gator Bowl. The 52 points scored are a record for the most by any team in Gator Bowl history. Michigan had a 14-10 lead with 34 seconds left in the first quarter but Mississippi State scored 42 unanswered points on the way to victory.

Ole Miss connection
Florida receiver Van Jefferson and Shea Patterson began their careers together at Ole Miss. Following the NCAA investigation into improper benefits and recruiting violations the Rebels were placed on probation and several players decided to transfer. Jefferson and Patterson both took an official visit to Michigan. Patterson found a home in Ann Arbor while Jefferson went south, preferring to stay in the SEC. Jefferson and Patterson still communicate regularly and both check box scores of after the other’s games to see how they did. They will be reunited when their new teams face off in December.

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Nick de la Torre
A South Florida native, Nick developed a passion for all things sports at a very young age. His love for baseball was solidified when he saw Al Leiter’s no-hitter for the Marlins live in May of 1996. He was able to play baseball in college but quickly realized there isn’t much of a market for short, slow outfielders that hit around the Mendoza line. Wanting to continue with sports in some capacity he studied journalism at the University of Central Florida. Nick got his first start in the business as an intern for a website covering all things related to the NFL draft before spending two seasons covering the Florida football team at Bleacher Report. That job led him to GatorCountry. When he isn’t covering Gator sports, Nick enjoys hitting way too many shots on the golf course, attempting to keep up with his favorite t.v. shows and watching the Heat, Dolphins and Marlins. Follow him on twitter @NickdelatorreGC