Mississippi State vs. Michigan
The Gator Bowl will feature a suspect Michigan defense against a strong Mississippi State running game.
Mississippi State offense vs. Michigan defense
• Mississippi State's ground game is one of the most productive in the country and there is no shortage of talent in the backfield. RBs Vick Ballard and LaDarius Perkins have the quickness to turn the corner and can shift to another gear when they get into space. They can also press the line of scrimmage and then bounce runs outside. The Bulldogs can keep Michigan off-balance by lining them up in the same backfield with QB Chris Relf, who has the ability to keep the ball on options and designed keepers. At 240 pounds Relf is strong enough to pick up yards between the tackles and fast enough to rip off chunks of yards when he gets a seam. The MSU runners face a Wolverines defense that has had problems slowing the run, though the return of NT Mike Martin (ankle) to full health should give them a boost. Martin is a tenacious run-defender with good power and active hands. Michigan LBs Jonas Mouton and Kenny Demens have the range to make it hard for Ballard and Perkins to get outside. However, Martin doesn't have elite size for a nose tackle, and he can get covered up when he doesn't win with quickness. In addition, Mouton and Demens get caught out of position at times. They will have to play with sound discipline to slow this three-pronged attack.