The Wolverines are no worse than the second-best team the Hokies have faced. Maybe Clemson, which handed Tech its only defeats, is Michigan-caliber. But I suspect otherwise.
Unlike the Tigers, whose only defensive stands this season came against the Hokies, the Wolverines have been stingy for much of the season. Anchored by an XL front four, they allowed 30-plus points only to Notre Dame and Ohio State, more than 400 yards only to Notre Dame and Northwestern.
Hype notwithstanding, Michigan is more than quarterback Denard Robinson on offense. Tailback Fitz Toussaint has rushed for 1,011 yards and averages 5.8 yards per carry – Tech’s David Wilson averages 6.1 – and receiver Junior Hemingway averages 19.9 yards per reception. Plus, David Molk is regarded as the nation’s top center.
Under first-year coach Brady Hoke, the Wolverines beat Notre Dame and Nebraska and ended a seven-year losing streak against Ohio State. They lost road games to quality opponents Iowa and Michigan State.
In short, Michigan (10-2) simply may be better than Tech (11-2).
But will the Wolverines play their best in the program’s first Bowl Championship Series appearance in five years? I think they’ll need to.
The Hokies, especially Wilson, quarterback Logan Thomas and the defense, are smarting from that 38-10 loss to Clemson in the ACC championship game, and everyone on the roster and coaching staff is weary of hearing that Tech didn’t merit this at-large BCS bid, the ACC’s first.
Ohio State gave the Hokies a blueprint. If Buckeyes quarterback Braxton Miller can run for 100 yards and pass for 235 against Michigan, Thomas has a chance to do some business.
That task will be much easier if Wilson runs well early. Tech coaches acknowledge they didn’t use Wilson wisely or enough in the ACC title game, when he had season-lows of 11 carries for 32 yards.
With Wilson likely to jump early to the NFL, this figures to be his final college game. And while some NFL-bound players offer a selfish, half-baked effort in their farewells, I’m guessing Wilson runs with a purpose.
In November, I picked Tech to lose to Virginia. Couldn’t have been more wrong.
In December, I picked the Hokies to beat Clemson. Couldn’t have been more wrong.
Gee, wonder which way Tech faithful would prefer I go in January?
Sorry, dudes. Hokies, 23-21.
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