Now that the Florida Gators' destination (the Peach Bowl) and opponent (Michigan) have settled in, a few thoughts on the matchup:
1. Aside from the name recognition, it's not a great matchup. It'll be their third meeting in three calendar years. It won't be as fun as UF-UCF would have been, as I wrote in today's Tampa Bay Times. The Jim McElwain angle is out. And the Wolverines will be without one of their best players, Rashan Gary, who is skipping the game to focus on the NFL draft. Speaking of which…
2. I'm curious to see how good Michigan's defense is. The Wolverines were one of the best … until the last game, when rival Ohio State torched them for 62 points and 567 yards. And now they'll be without a very talented defensive lineman. I'm still not expecting a shootout, but it might not be a McElwain-era performance, either.
3. The most interesting player in the game might be Michigan QB Shea Patterson. "Obviously, I am familiar with Shea Patterson and he has brought a new dimension to their offense," UF coach Dan Mullen said in a statement Sunday. That's because Mullen coached against Patterson when Mullen was at Mississippi State and Patterson was quarterbacking Ole Miss. So their history is interesting. Patterson threw 21 touchdown passes and five interceptions this year.
4. I'm also really interested in what UF does with backup QB Emory Jones. The blue-chip true freshman has appeared in three games, so he can play in the bowl game without burning his redshirt. So I'm expecting the Gators to use him in some sort of package. I don't know if that's two plays, 10 plays or 20 plays, but I'm curious to see how he looks in it, and how he fares against a very good Michigan defense.
5. Does the revenge factor matter? Michigan went on a revenge tour all season (at least until that Ohio State game), and the Wolverines have blown out UF twice recently, including the 2017 season opener. So maybe the Gators want to avenge those losses and destroy Michigan. Or maybe not. Bowl games are hard to read that way. I could see the Wolverines coming out angry after how they played against Ohio State … or I could see them playing half-hearted in what might be a disappointing spot for them. We'll find out on Dec. 29 in Atlanta.