NEW ORLEANS -- For Michigan to continue its path toward reclamation, the Allstate Sugar Bowl is important for a lot of reasons.
So much of how teams are judged now are how they fare in bowl games, and historically, the Wolverines haven’t been great. They're 18-20 in bowls, including a 4-6 record since 2000.
They haven’t been all that good in marquee bowls, either. Michigan hasn’t won a BCS game since a 35-34 overtime win over Alabama on Jan. 1, 2000. Since then, the Wolverines have lost in the Rose Bowl in 2004 (28-14 to USC), 2005 (38-37 to Texas) and 2007 (32-18 to USC).
So this Sugar Bowl is, in some ways, about more than just a single team in a single season. It is about taking another step toward a return to relevancy on the national stage for Michigan.
Beating Virginia Tech could go a long way to doing that.
Winning a bowl game, whether it should or not, helps shape perception.
“It’s a lot better when you win it,” Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said. “The way you’re thought of in the end, the final poll, it’s a lot better if you win it for when you start out the next year. It’s going to be higher if you win it.
“I think there’ just a lot of implications that a BCS bowl win or any bowl win really has on your program.”
And in college football, for now, perception is almost everything when you are trying to win a national championship, which Michigan might have the team to do next season.
Michigan coach Brady Hoke said he hasn’t thought much about next season’s opener against Alabama. but the Wolverines’ chances against the Crimson Tide -- at least in the world of perception -- would be higher with a win.
“There’s a momentum that any team has when you win that last opportunity you have to play,” Hoke said. “I think there’s something to be said for that. You’re on a national stage. The only game in town.
“And so people who love and have a passion for college football, they’re going to take notice.”
How they notice and view Michigan could be very different by the end of Tuesday night.