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Report: Michigan might face LSU in Citrus Bowl

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

Michigan hasn’t been to a bowl game since the 2013 season, and while it’s not clear where the Wolverines will play, one report suggests an interesting matchup.

Matt Moscona, a radio host in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on Sunday reported that following LSU’s victory on Saturday, a Citrus Bowl representative told him a Michigan-LSU matchup is a possibility for the New Year’s Day bowl in Orlando, Florida.

Les Miles, a former Michigan offensive lineman and assistant coach, is the LSU head coach, and he would face Jim Harbaugh, a former Michigan quarterback, now the Wolverines’ head coach. The storyline runs even deeper considering Miles’ name surfaced as a candidate during the last three Michigan coaching searches.

Moscona, in a blog post on Sunday, said he spoke to Citrus Bowl representative Jonathan Gorman, who asked his opinion whether LSU fans would be excited to travel to Orlando to support their 8-3 team. Moscona wrote that Gorman when asked which Big Ten team would be represented said Michigan.

The Wolverines are coming off a 42-13 loss to rival Ohio State last Saturday at Michigan Stadium. Michigan, which failed to qualify for a bowl last season after going 5-7, finished 9-3 (6-2 Big Ten) in Harbaugh’s first season as coach.

“I don’t think anyone really gave us a chance this year except for us,” defensive lineman Chris Wormley said after the game. “We were in it right until the end to play for a Big Ten championship. That’s going to be the goal every year. Looking back at it, there were some good things we did and obviously some bad things we did. We have to improve on the bad things and build on the things we did well.

“This loss is obviously tough. You never want to lose to Ohio State especially the way we did. But (we have) a bowl game. We haven’t been to one in two years, and we’re super excited for that. It’s a chance for us to get better. We’re going to get an extra 15 practices.”

Championship games are yet to be played and could affect Michigan’s bowl destination, but Michigan State and Iowa, which will meet in the Big Ten title game on Saturday, and Ohio State, will land in either the College Football Playoff or a New Year’s Six bowl.

Citrus Bowl representatives attended the Michigan-Ohio State game and also were present for several Michigan home games this season. Michigan last played in the bowl on Jan. 1, 2008, Lloyd Carr’s final game as Michigan head coach.

Even the Citrus Bowl Twitter account chimed in Sunday night: “In the Big Ten, it seems likely that Iowa, Michigan State and Ohio State will be in CFP/NY6, but we’re discussing the possibility one drops.”

If Michigan plays in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl, another potential opponent could be Florida, the team Carr’s team defeated in 2008. It was then coached by Urban Meyer, now Ohio State’s coach, and led by Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow.

The bowl matchups will be finalized and announced next Sunday after the completion of all the conference championship games.

Making a bowl is a reward for teams and their fans, but they offer the important addition of 15 practices, which Michigan missed a year ago. They are vital in terms of preparation for the next season, giving coaches an opportunity to work players at different positions, and, obviously, give them more repetitions leaving less of a gap between the end of the season until the start of spring practice.

“The bowl game is obviously our biggest focus now, the extra 15 practices to get everyone that much better,” UM receiver Amara Darboh said. “Obviously we’re disappointed with the loss, but there’s a lot to look forward to with the bowl game.”