Knapp: Why Winning the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl is Important for Michigan Football

Knapp: Why Winning the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl is Important for Michigan Football

Football

Knapp: Why Winning the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl is Important for Michigan Football

After the loss to Ohio State back in November, many Michigan fans lost interest in the rest of the season. There wasn’t a conference championship game to get excited for or a College Football Playoff game either. While they still were in the top 10, the season was done.

Jump ahead through the past few weeks and once it was announced that Michigan would play Florida again in another bowl game, their third overall game in three years, fans on both sides, Florida and Michigan, were upset of the matchup. Michigan played Florida in the Citrus Bowl in 2015, then open their 2017 season against them in Dallas, and now in Georgia in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.

More reasons for fans to not be “interested” in the game was the announcements of defensive end Rashan Gary, linebacker Devin Bush, running back Karan Higdon and now right tackle Juwann Bushell-Beatty announced they wouldn’t be playing in the upcoming bowl game.

Bushell-Beatty is a fifth-year senior who has yet to explain why he won’t be playing on Saturday, but the others are all focused on their NFL futures. Gary is focused on staying healthy and not wanting to get hurt as it could affect his draft stock, Bush was never cleared by doctors to play, and Higdon doesn’t have anything else to prove to the scouts of the NFL and is also sitting out to avoid injury like Gary.

Then rumors came out of head coach Jim Harbaugh would be leaving Michigan after this season and return to the NFL, but Harbaugh would come out and say that those reports were false and that he was staying at Michigan.

Now that the month off of no Michigan football on the television screen is over, fans are still indifferent. While some are still planning on watching it while others simply don’t care, well you should.

Bowl games mean more than you think and while it is completely understandable if players want to miss out on it to protect themselves for their NFL career, there are still other players who are going to the NFL on the team that are playing in the game, like starting defensive end Chase Winovich. There are still other players who will be back at Michigan in 2019 and further beyond playing in this game, like Tarik Black, Donovan Peoples-Jones, and Christian Turner. There are still recruits who haven’t committed yet to a university and this game could be their deciding factor like Josh Sanguinetti.

The Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl matters for both teams, every bowl game matters for the players and coaches involved. Winning these games can help to recruit players to your school, and coaches to come help develop these young men.

Michigan wasn’t supposed to start off with a bang in 2015 under Harbaugh, finishing the regular season 9-3 then destroying Flordia in the Citrus Bowl finished them off 10-3 in a great first year under Harbaugh.

2016 for Michigan ended horribly with losses to Iowa and Ohio State knocking them out of the Big Ten Championship game and College Football Playoffs, then in the Capital One Orange Bowl they would lose starting tight end Jake Butt to a torn ACL and that would hurt his NFL draft stock, a reason why players miss these games. But the loss to Florida State would leave a bad taste in their mouth and they walk away from another 10-3 season with their heads down instead of up despite having the same record from the year before.

2017 was a blown lead given up to South Carolina and while 2017 was a down year for Harbaugh and Michigan, losing and losing in that fashion was even a worse way to end their season compared to 2016. The end of the 2017 season and with all the question marks left fans questioning many things and 2018 turned them around.

Ending 2018 with a win would put Michigan at 11-2, Harbaugh’s best record at Michigan and leaves the fans happy knowing their team came out on top at the year’s end and excited to see what 2019 can hold. It can also help with recruiting and determine if players want to attend Michigan, and a win could help any undecisive players, like cornerbacks David Long and Lavert Hill to possibly return for 2019 and a championship run with returning quarterback Shea Patterson leading the offense.

Ending 2018 with a loss would again put Michigan at 10-3 for the third time in four years with questions about if Michigan can get more than 10 wins, can the defense who is losing a lot of talent return to being what they were, and if Patterson is the right quarterback as the Dylan McCaffrey calls to start in 2019 get louder than they were in 2018.

Michigan needs to win this game to boost their confidence for the future and to prepare this team for what 2019 is going to be, another solid chance to play in the Big Ten Championship game and compete in the CFP for the National Championship.

Michigan takes on Florida on Saturday, December 29 at noon in Atlanta, Georgia.

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