A Win in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Could Prove 2018 to be a Successful Season

ben bredeson michigan left guard

A Win in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Could Prove 2018 to be a Successful Season

Football

A Win in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Could Prove 2018 to be a Successful Season

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — It’s a familiar matchup, but that doesn’t mean that the Wolverines aren’t looking forward to facing Florida, yet again, this time in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl in Atlanta later this month.

For some, this will be the third time they’ve played the Gators in four years, with the first time being on Jan. 1, 2016 in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl. The two teams matched up a year and a half later to start off the 2017 season in the Advocare Classic in Arlington, Tex. The Wolverines won both matchups decisively.

So, with Michigan and Florida having met up just so often as the maize and blue has with cross-divisional Wisconsin in the same stretch, it seems like there would be some kind of fatigue there. But Wolverines left guard Ben Bredeson says he’s looking forward to the game, nonetheless.

While Michigan is 4-0 in the history of the series against the Gators, assuredly the perception that the SEC is the superior conference than the Big Ten is likely to rear its ugly head by the time the game rolls around.

The narrative that the SEC is the nation’s premier conference is bolstered mostly by the one dominant team — Alabama — which has won six championships under the guidance of Nick Saban. Play close with Alabama, and you’ll be in consideration for the College Football Playoff — just ask No. 5 Georgia, which narrowly missed out, despite having two losses, maintaining a one-spot advantage over one-loss Ohio State.

Bredeson doesn’t look at it as a situation where he and his team have to defeat that narrative — they’ve done it before. For him and his teammates, however, it’s about proving that 2018, despite a blowout loss to Ohio State, was still a great year for the maize and blue.

“I never really look at it like that,” Bredeson said. “I’m sure some people do – you know, probably some guys from down south. I’m sure some of the Florida guys will get a little extra motivation from this one. I just want to win this big bowl game.

“It’s a New Year’s Six bowl. Obviously, it’s a big bowl for everybody. We’ve had a helluva year here. We lost to two rivals, and everybody tries to make it out like we had a bad year, but we finished 10-2. It’s not the year that everybody wanted, but it’s a great year nonetheless. I just think we really need to cap this off with a big bowl win, and everybody will remember this as a great year.”

Just as it was a year ago, when Michigan had eight wins, but two straight losses — to undefeated Wisconsin and eventual Big Ten champion Ohio State — a win in the bowl game is looked at as a spring board into the next season.

Bredeson expects that the Wolverines will return all but two players on offense — with graduating seniors Karan Higdon and Juwann Bushell-Beatty exhausting their eligibility — so he sees a group that could be even better this next year. In a way, playing well in the bowl game is like a precursor to spring practice, he says, giving the maize and blue some positive energy as the team prepares for 2019.

“You always want to win the last game of the year,” Bredeson said. “It puts a good taste in your mouth for the offseason. That’s what we have here, and we get a big win against Florida here at the end of the month, I think it’ll do exactly that – just spring us into spring ball and keep that momentum rolling.”

But still, win the game, and this Michigan team does something it hasn’t done since 2011: win eleven games.

That season saw the 10-2 regular season team get a win the BCS’ Sugar Bowl over Va. Tech. It had been 5 years since its last eleven win season, when the 11-2 Wolverines lost the final two games of the 2006 season, after having gone into the final regular season showdown against Ohio State ranked No. 2.

Should Michigan get win No. 11 on Dec. 29, the Wolverines could rise in the final College Football Playoff rankings from No. 7 to within the top four, depending on what happens to the teams ahead of them. Despite losses to OSU and Notre Dame, such is something to build off of.

And that’s what Bredeson, a team captain, and his teammates are looking to achieve. From there, it’ll be that much easier to rally this team going into 2019.

“That’s our big motto now: just get the 11th win, let everything settle from there,” Bredeson said. “Address what we need to address in the offseason.”

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