Preparations for today's Citrus Bowl have been overshadowed all week by the plight of Arkansas assistant Danny Nutt, the brother of coach Houston Nutt who had brain surgery Wednesday.
Earlier tests revealed that Nutt, 37, had bleeding in the brain stem, but doctors thought the bleeding had stopped. Nutt, dizzy and nauseous, accompanied the team to Orlando but returned to Fayetteville when the symptoms worsened.
His symptoms grew so bad Wednesday that his parents rushed the team's running backs coach from their home in West Little Rock to University Hospital for emergency surgery.
His brother did not tell the Razorbacks how bad the situation was, or even that one of their coaches was having surgery, until it was completed as the players sat with their Michigan counterparts at the Florida Citrus Bowl Kickoff luncheon Wednesday. A prayer was held before the luncheon.
The surgery lasted three hours, and doctors expect him to recover after spending time in intensive care.
Doctors decided Tuesday to postpone the surgery, and that left his brother sleepless as he stayed in touch with family at home throughout the night.
"Everybody's pulling for Coach Nutt," QB Clint Stoerner said. "I know it really weighs on coach that his brother is going through this right now."
A FIRST TIME FOR EVERYTHING: Arkansas and Michigan have never met or played in the Citrus Bowl. The Razorbacks have not played a Big Ten school in 17 years and are 1-2 against the conference. Michigan is 14-4-1 against the Southeastern Conference.
BOWL DAY OPPOSITES: Arkansas is making its 29th trip to a bowl game. It is 9-16-3 in bowl games and hasn't won one since defeating Arizona State 18-17 in the 1985 Holiday Bowl. The Hogs are on a six-game bowl losing streak, the last in 1995 to North Carolina in the Carquest Bowl.
A win for Arkansas would mean its first 10-win season since 1988 and its first New Year's Day bowl win since the 1978 Orange Bowl. It also might give the Hogs their first final Top 10 ranking since 1982, when they finished No. 9 in the AP poll.
Michigan is looking for its 15th bowl victory in 30 appearances. The Wolverines are tied with Auburn and LSU for bowl victories. Today will be Michigan's 25th appearance in a New Year's Day game.
The Wolverines' last bowl appearance was in the Rose Bowl in January, when Michigan defeated Washington State 21-16 to win a share of the national title.
_ JAMAL THALJI, TIMES WIRES