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Thursday Morning Brews: You play to win the game?

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With so many players sitting out, what constitutes a win on Saturday?

Michigan v Rutgers Photo by Corey Perrine/Getty Images

Happy Thursday, folks. Welcome to Morning Brews. With just about every Michigan team on break this week due to the holidays, we’re doing things a little differently this morning. Those of you who are longtime readers of the Brews may recall that I used to format these articles as an expanded take on a topic du jour, followed by two-ish pieces of outside content relevant to Michigan. We’ll be returning to that format for today, and perhaps Tuesday as well, before returning to our now-standard format toward the end of next week.

As usual there is a song referenced in this morning’s Brews. There are at least two clues. Clues may be words, phrases, or photographs and may reference lyrics, the artist, or the album. If you think you know this morning’s song, fire away down in the comments.

Let’s get to it:

Michigan v Notre Dame Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

What do you need to see from Michigan in the Peach Bowl?

Many of you will say “a win,” and until the past ten days or so I would have agreed. After a devastating loss to Ohio State, this season for Michigan went from pretty good to leaving a sour taste in the mouth of many fans. A win would stretch Michigan’s record to 11-2, which would be the new high water mark of the Jim Harbaugh era. A convincing win over a somewhat familiar SEC foe would also go a long way toward making people feel better about this season, and build momentum for next season.

But then we learned that Rashan Gary, Devin Bush, Karan Higdon, and Juwann Bushell-Beatty would not be playing in the Peach Bowl and Aubrey Solomon is transferring. That... changes things in my mind. Rashan Gary and Devin Bush are two of the most highly decorated Michigan defenders in a while, Karan Higdon is Michigan’s first 1,000 yard running back since 2011, and Juwann Bushell-Beatty is an honorable mention All-Big Ten guard who’s started nearly 20 games in his career for the Wolverines.

I agree with Trevor that these guys are making business decisions about their future, and that’s their right. Especially so after what happened to Jake Butt a couple years ago. But that’s a lot of production and leadership to lose, and the Florida Gators aren’t a bunch of slouches. They’ve lost some games this year, but make no mistake they’re a dangerous team if you don’t take them seriously and bring your best. Perhaps for Saturday to be a success, the Wolverines don’t have to win.

Now, I’m not here to make excuses and tell you that Saturday’s game doesn’t matter—it does. But I think the loss of production and leadership, and the increasing trend of players sitting out bowl games, changes the calculus when it comes to evaluating bowl results. Would a win be great on Saturday? Absolutely, for all the reasons I laid out above. But the Wolverines are going to field a younger and less experienced team than many expected when the regular season ended, so I think there are ways the Wolverines come out ahead on Saturday even if not on the scoreboard.

How? Well for starters, as Von laid out a couple days ago there is upside to younger players getting meaningful exposure on a big stage. Christian Turner, Aidan Hutchinson, and Jordan Anthony could be underclassmen who gain valuable experience on Saturday and that’s not nothing. For me, if the team shows progress—if they by and large execute, if the young guys look good and play with reckless abandon, if the game is hard-fought, the result close-ish, and the team doesn’t stop ‘til it’s over—I’ll be alright regardless of the outcome of Saturday.

What do you think? Does Michigan need to win for the Peach Bowl to be a success? Weigh in with the poll below and down in the comments.

Poll

What does Michigan need to do to be successful in your eyes on Saturday?

This poll is closed

  • 72%
    Win the game. Nothing less will be enough.
    (454 votes)
  • 13%
    Show progress, even in a loss.
    (84 votes)
  • 7%
    Meaningful playing time for the young guys.
    (46 votes)
  • 5%
    Bowl games don’t matter much anymore so who cares?
    (37 votes)
  • 0%
    Other (comment).
    (5 votes)
626 votes total Vote Now

Kornacki’s Top-10 stories of the year is rolling on and checking in at No. 3 is this write-up of Austin Hatch from February. Of his article Kornacki says, “Hatch survived two plane crashes that claimed his entire immediate family, and he fought against terrible injuries and great odds to play one basketball season for the Wolverines before settling into his role as a student assistant. He graduated, got married to volleyball star Abby Cole, and was hired to work in the front office at Domino’s Pizza.

It was a fabulous four years, and I cherish that we became friends. We sat and talked for one hour about it all, and he said his father, Stephen, would’ve been his best man on June 16 if he’d survived. Then he said, ‘Abby is the reason I’m still here. I really believe that.’ There are unforgettable people, and then there’s Austin Hatch.”

Yesterday was an odd one in the world of college football. Boston College was supposed to face off with Boise State in the First Responder Bowl, and I guess for a little while they did. But then some storms rolled in and after about an hour, the bowl announced the rest of the game had been cancelled. Yeah, seriously. Of the sports oddity, Alex Kirshner over at the SB Nation mothership had this to say:

Among the standard slate of FBS bowls, it’s not clear when the last one was.

The NCAA lists the 2000 BCA Classic, a season kickoff game the NCAA mentions in its bowl record book, as being canceled due to weather. It notes that the 1941 Hawaii Rainbows had a postseason game canceled due to the attack on Pearl Harbor. The 2013 C.H.A.M.P.S. Heart of Texas Bowl was canceled due to weather, but that’s not an FBS bowl.

It does not mention any of FBS’ postseason games getting called off. That’s not to say it’s never happened, but this event’s in the neighborhood of “never happened before.”