Many times Michigan spends New Year’s in Pasadena. Sometimes, they do not. Here are some of the highs (and lows) of those days spent not in the shadow of the San Gabriel Mountains:
It’s Spanish for “Party” | U-M 27, Nebraska 9 (Fiesta Bowl, 1/1/1986)
Crimson Tied, So to Overtime | U-M 35, Alabama 34 (OT) (Orange Bowl, 1/1/2000)
Vitamin C! | U-M 31, Auburn 28 (Citrus Bowl, 1/1/2001)
Lloyd’s Ride Off Into the Sunset | U-M 41, Florida 35 (Capital One Bowl, 1/1/2008)
If you had asked Michigan fans before the 2007 season started where they were going to be playing come New Year’s 2008, they would have said Pasadena probably, New Orleans hopefully. Ask them after the Oregon game, they would have likely said Detroit, maybe slip into Orlando for the Champs Sports Bowl. So getting Florida in the Capital One Bowl felt like a victory (even as the rest of America said “Wait, what?” to Illinois getting in to the Rose Bowl.)
Florida had down year, coming off the 2006 BCS National Championship, but led by Heisman Trophy winner sophomore quarterback Tim Tebow, the Gators were 9-3 coming in to the game, having gone 5-3 in the SEC. Michigan was 8-4, having reeled off eight straight wins before dropping a game at Wisconsin and then The Game which sent Ohio State to the National Championship game against Les Miles’ “damn strong” team. Oh, and it was Lloyd Carr’s last game before his retirement. So there was a lot going on here.
But back to the matter at hand. Michigan was healthy in the first time in forever. Chad Henne could actually feel his arm, which is important for many people, but especially for the quarterback.
In the end, Michigan would hand Tim Tebow his only bowl loss of his college career and Lloyd gets a ride off the field on the shoulders of his team.