Page 10-Tuesday, December 11, 1979-The Michigan Daily
The Michigan Daily-Tuesday, Df
By DAN PERRIN HOME
Year number eleven,. ..
... Bo in Gator heaven?
T HIS IS IT. An opportunity like this may never pass Michigan coach
Bo Schembechler's way again.
Afterfailing to win the last game of the year ten straight times, Schem-
bechler may finally close out a season with a victory.
Don't fool yourself, though. It won't be easy. Michigan and it's Gator
Bowl opponent, North Carolina, are strikingly similar in many ways.
Neither has a distinct advantage over the other, at least on paper.
But, as I see it, there are several reasons for Bo and his boys to be op-
timistic going into their fifth consecutive post-season contest.
First of all, by playing in a lesser bowl like the Gator Bowl, the
Wolverines have been cast out othe limelight. Although the Dec. 28 contest
will be on national television, it is not one of the 'Big Four' New Year's Day
classics-the Rose, Orange, Sugar and Cotton Bowls. Not that the Blue grid-
ders wanted it that way. But it just may be an omen in disguise.
Secondly, instead of squaring off in sunny Southern California, where Bo
hasn't won a bowl game in five tries, Michigan will take the field in the other
Sunshine State-Florida. There, Schembechler is just 0 for 1 in bowl match-
ups, having lost to eventual national champion Oklahoma, 14-6, in the 1976
And most importantly, instead of USC or Washington, the Wolverines
will meet North Carolina, an unranked team from the little-respected Atlan-
tic Coast Conference, during the holiday break.
Heels hard to figure
The Tar Heels enter the contest with a 7-3-1 overall record. From the
outside, that mark looks respectable, but the first glance is deceiving.
Carolina finished a lowly fifth in the ACC with a 3-3 conference record,
ahead only of also-rans Virginia (2-4) and Duke (0-6). On top of that, the Tar
Heels barely edged Virginia, 13-7, in the second to last game of the year.
Yet, Carolina is a team to be contended with. The Tar Heels knocked off
a pair of formidable opponents, South Carolina and Pittsburgh, in their first
two outings of the year. Pittsburgh has not lost another game all season and
is headed for the Fiesta Bowl, while the Gamecocks finished 8-3 and earned
an invitation to the Hall of Fame Bowl.
And, of NC's three losses, two of the victorious opponents, Clemson and
Wake Forest, finished the year with 8-3 slates. Both teams were 4-2 in the
ACC, ahead of the Tar Heels in the standings. The Tigers and the Deacons
also accepted bids to the Peach Bowl and Tangerine Bowl, respectively.
Beyond that, three of the Ileels' opponents this season are ranked in the
Top 20 nationally. Pittsburgh checks in at No, 11, South Carolina at No. 17
and Clemson slips in at the No. 18 spot in the most recent ratings.
Likewise, Michigan has had a very similar type of season. The
Wolverines lost three times, each time to a top-notch team. Notre Dame,
Purdue and Ohio State all knocked off the Blue gridders to leave them mired
in third place, Michigan's lowest finish in the Big Ten since Schembechler
arrived in Ann Arbor in 1969.
'Bowl city' for Big Ten
Ohio State (No. 2), Purdue (No. 12) and of course, Michigan (No. 14)
occupy spots in the Top 20. And all three teams plus Indiana have accepted
bowl bids, giving credence to the high caliber of competition in the Big Ten
this year. For the record, the Buckeyes will play in the Rose Bowl vs. USC,
the Boilermakers will take on Tennessee in the Astro-Bluebonnet Bowl and
the Hoosiers.face Brigham Young in the Holiday Bowl.
So you see, based on the two teams' performances this year alone, it's
difficult to pick a winner in the Gator Bowl.
What it may very well come down to is which squad wants the win more.
Ridiculous, you say? Obviously they both want the victory, right?
That may be true, but Michigan wants to win not only for them-
selves. They want it for the Michigan tradition, a very strong tradition at
that, and most of all, they want to win it for Bo. Just ask senior defensive
back Mike Jolly.
"I think the primary motivation factor for this game is Bo not being able
to win his last game," said Jolly in a recent interview. "I think we have
something to prove. Even though we have the worst regular season record,
we could be the first team to win a post season game for Bo."
And what does Schembechler think about that? Nonsense, he says.
"We're not playing this game for me," Bo insisted at the media luncheon
after the Ohio State game. "I don't need any more victories. I want the kids
to come out a winner."
The man can say what he wants, but you know he'd just love to cap off
the year with a big "W." It would be nice... for once.
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