3* Sugar Bowl SMASH
Michigan vs. Virginia Tech,
01/03/2012 20:30 EDT,
Score: 23 - 20
Point Spread: -2½/-115 Michigan
3* Sugar Bowl SMASH (ESPN) on Michigan -2.5
This is a statement game for Michigan to show the country it is back as a national power. Plenty of Wolverines were around to experience a 5-7 season in 2009 and last season's embarrassing 52-14 loss to Mississippi State in the Gator Bowl. Michigan has been a different team from day one under Hoke, and I expect it to deliver tonight.
VA Tech has been a staple in the BCS bowl scene, but this year's team doesn't appear to be quite as deserving. The Hokies faced a schedule rated just 63rd nationally. While an argument can be made that Michigan isn't deserving of this spot either, it should at least be noted that the Wolverines faced 10 bowl teams and the 39th-toughest schedule.
Michigan is the better offensive team with the more dynamic QB (Denard Robinson). I'm expecting a big performance from Robinson tonight as he's finally healthy after battling a host of issues throughout the season (staph infection, elbow and hand injuries, abdominal issue).
While Robinson and the offense have garnered most of the praise this season, a defense that ranked 16th nationally with 317.6 yards allowed per game and 6th nationally with 17.2 points allowed per contest certainly deserves its due. The defense is the biggest reason for Michigan's major turnaround.
The Wolverines are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games as a favorite and 9-2 ATS in their last 11 non-conference games. The Hokies are 3-9 ATS in their last 12 games and 0-4 ATS in their last 4 non-conference games. Lay the number.