Michigan will be making its 43rd bowl appearance, which is pretty impressive, but it’s only 11th on the all-time list of bowl appearances. 

Alabama and Texas lead the list and ‘bama has the most bowl wins of any school.   The Wolverines are quick to point out, however, that they’ve won more games (910) than any other BCS school.

Michigan history---

The Wolverines remain one of the marquee programs in college football, but their relative decline has been noticeable over the last 15 years.  Through the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s Michigan won nearly 80 percent of its games, since 2000 they’ve only won 65 percent of the time.  Still good but not to the standards they’ve become accustomed to in Ann Arbor. 

The Wolverines last national title and only once since the 40’s came in 1997 and they haven’t won a Big 10 championship since 2004. Again, most programs would love to have Michigan’s success but the Maize and Blue are a very pedestrian 41-33 over the last six years.

Motivations---

There are some questions, even amongst the Michigan press corps, about how motivated the Wolverines are for this game.  Michigan finished the season 1-4, a stretch that was punctuated by a game but very disappointing one point loss to Ohio State.

  By the way, it’s interesting listening to Michigan players reference Ohio State; to a man they all refer to the Buckeyes as ‘Ohio’, which makes me wonder how they reference the University of Ohio.

Wolverine attack---

With Devin Gardner out at quarterback for Michigan, the signal calling falls to true freshman Shane Morris. 

Very highly regarded, he’s only thrown nine passes in the four games he’s played this season.  Obviously, he’s been force fed taking reps with the first offense for the last two weeks, but we won’t know how he’ll react to things until people start coming at him with bad intents. 

It makes me wonder how active KSU Defensive Coordinator Tom Hayes will be with his blitz package tonight, will he throw a lot of different looks at the freshman?  K-State is generally pretty selective about when they bring an extra guy or two, I’d be surprised if they deviate from anything they’ve done all season.

Conventional wisdom has it that Michigan will put the game into the hands of their huge and talented offensive line,  but this is a team that lost its most explosive rusher in Gardner and only runs for 130 yards a game anyway (as opposed to KSU which averages 180 yds/game). 

With Gardner Michigan had only the 83rd most productive offense in the country this year, it’ll be interesting to see what they do with Morris.

Quick start---

The predominant theme in K-States bowl preparation is getting off to a good start, something they haven’t done in each of their last two preseasons.  Two years ago against Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl the ‘Cats were down 16 before they finally woke up, last year Oregon ripped them with a score on the opening kickoff and lead 15-0 after the first quarter. 

KSU is 6-1 this year when they score first; I wouldn’t be surprised to see them take a couple of early shots down the field as they really want to win the first quarter.

A couple of notes---

John Hubert needs just 32 yards for his first 1,000 yard rushing season at KSU; Hubert is #2 on the all-time rushing list behind Darren Sproles. 

Ryan Mueller needs just half a sack tonight to become the ‘Cats all-time single season sacks leader. 

Ty Zimmerman returns from injury as the only player in K-State history to garner All-Big 12 honors in each of his four years, interestingly, teammates Tyler Lockett and BJ Finney are on schedule to join him next year.

Fearless forecast---(which really falls into the category of—for what it’s worth)

I like this matchup for K-State, as long as they can make stops on defense.  Morris is a real wildcard for Michigan, how does he handle the moment? 

There are yards and points to be had against Michigan and the ‘Cats balance should serve them well.  Kansas State has a decided advantage, as they generally do, in special teams but can they be the more disciplined team?  

I’m not sure how urgency equates in the formula, but the Wildcats have it after four straight bowl losses. 

To get to eight wins after a 2-4 start would be notable and I think that’s what will happen---

K-State 35,  Michigan 28.