Mullen Magic over Panda Picks
The Florida Gators return to prominence behind the strong leadership and outstanding coaching of Dan Mullen the former Miss State head coach that hung up his cowbell to return home for his dream job in the Swamp.
The Gators take on media darling Jim Harbaugh and the Michigan Wolverines in the 2018 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl on December 29, at Mercedes Benz Stadium. Both Coaches in common have returned home to lead programs dear to their hearts.
Dan Mullen has done a masterful job reviving the Gators from life support building them from a sub-.500 team to earning the programs first New year’s Six Bowl bid in the CFP era.
How is that possible? Some coaches make a difference in their first year, and others struggle. Florida State moved on from Jimbo Fisher hired Willie Taggart and missed playing in a bowl game for the first time in over 30 years. Florida plugged in Mullen they are playing in their biggest bowl game since the Urban Myer era.
Is it that some coaches have a system that requires a certain type of player or do they adjust to fit the talent they have? I believe it’s the latter. Don Shula was the best football coach of all time at any level when he had Mercury Morris and Larry Szonka in the backfield he ran the ball to death. When they drafted Dan Marino perhaps the best pure passer of all-time, they threw the ball to death. Talk about going from one extreme to the other.
This top ten match-up #10 Florida vs. #7 Michigan pairs former elite performers.
“We couldn’t have asked for a better matchup for our first Big 10 vs. SEC game in 28 years with two top-10 teams,” said Gary Stokan, Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl CEO, and president. “We have a showdown between two storied programs that have combined for 14 National Championships, 50 conference championships, and six Heisman Trophy winners. It’s going to be an incredible way to start the New Year’s Six bowl games.”
The game sold out at hello marking the 20th time the Bowl has sold out in its last 22 games, dating back to 1997. If you haven’t noticed Atlanta with the College Football Hall of Fame and its relationship with Chic-fil-a has become the college football capital.
Michigan (10-2, 8-1 Big Ten) will be making their first appearance in the Peach Bowl they lead the nation in total defense (263 yards per game).
Florida (9-3, 5-3 SEC) are ranked 10th in fewest passing yards allowed 175 yards per game and averages 35 points per game.
The Gators may have a bit more to gain by playing in the fertile recruiting grounds of Atlanta located about 5 hours away.
The Gators are led by Junior QB Feleipe Franks who has thrown for 2284 yards this season averaging 190 passing yards and 23 touchdowns. Under Mullen the offensive coordinator for Tim Tebow back in the Florida glory days. He was also the head coach of the Mississippi State Bulldogs with Dak Prescott. He has a proven track record of working well with quarterbacks. This season Franks improved in major categories across the board. He has thrown for 14 more touchdowns, 846 more yards, and reduced in interceptions two fewer last season he threw eight this season only six.
Mullen spoke well of his quarterback:
“You look at how he performed from the beginning of this season to the end of the season. He was a much better player at the end of the year than the beginning of the year. He was much more comfortable in the offense in leading us and decision making in the plays that he made. I think that gave him the confidence to improve throughout the year.”
Shea Patterson, the transfer from Mississippi, has transitioned well throwing for 2364 yards 197 a game 21 touchdowns and 5 interceptions.
His head coach Jim Harbaugh spoke well of him also “he’s been great at getting better at everything. He’s an ascending player. It’s just everything you ask him to do; he’s got the athletic ability to go out and do it. He’s really serious about being good. He’s so focused at practice, and he’s the type of player that you can give a coaching point to and he gets it and practices and improves on it.”
The two teams mirror each other.
Florida averages 426.7 yards of total offense, 217.2 passing, and 209.5 rushing
Michigan averages 427.3 yards of total offense 212.9 passing and 214.3 rushing
“Both Florida and Michigan have had outstanding seasons, and we are thrilled to welcome them both to Atlanta, the Capital of College Football,” said Bob Somers, Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl chairman. “To have the all-time winningest program in college football history square off against a perennial SEC power will be the perfect way to close out yet another thrilling college football season.”
Michigan is favored by a touchdown 54% of the games have been decided by a touchdown or less, but we believe the Mullen magic will prevail by that touchdown.
1. a select part of a group that is superior to the rest in terms of ability or qualities.
— #CFAPeachBowl (@CFAPeachBowl) December 27, 2018