ATLANTA - It's an internal struggle Michigan football fans have been facing for more than three weeks: How should they feel about the Peach Bowl matchup with Florida?
On one hand, bowl games have become inherently less important in the College Football Playoff era. But still, it's two ranked powers going at it in a major bowl game, right?
Let's break down the debate.
Reasons the Peach Bowl could be awesome
Michigan looking for 11th win
The most important thing for a college football program is to always be moving in a positive direction. Irrelevance is a death sentence in recruiting and can stop teams from having a chance to compete at the highest level.
Jim Harbaugh has won 10 games twice at Michigan, and the Peach Bowl is an opportunity for him to set a new career high with his alma mater.
It would also be the first time since 2011 Michigan has won 11 games and the 10th time in program history.
If Michigan wins the Peach Bowl and finishes with 11 wins, few would argue this has been a successful season for the Wolverines.
First Peach Bowl appearance
Tradition and all-time achievements are major pillars of Michigan football, and a Peach Bowl win would add another unique accomplishment to the list.
Michigan has never been to the Peach Bowl. It's the only major bowl -- which includes the Rose, Orange, Sugar, Fiesta, Peach and Cotton bowls -- in which the Wolverines have never appeared.
There are only five teams -- Oklahoma, Ohio State, Penn State, Notre Dame and Texas -- that have won five of the six major bowls, and Michigan is among a handful of teams that have won four. A win in the Peach Bowl would add Michigan to that exclusive all-time group.
It's also an opportunity for Michigan to beat an SEC team in Georgia, which is valuable for a program that has recruited heavily in the state under Harbaugh. On Wednesday, Michigan signed four players -- Chris Hinton, Trente Jones, Jalen Perry and Charles Thomas -- from the fertile recruiting state. Myles Sims, Christian Turner and Michael Barrett signed with Michigan out of Georgia last recruiting cycle.
Both Georgia players from the 2017 recruiting class -- Kurt Taylor and Aubrey Solomon -- decided to transfer from Michigan this season, so it would be an added bonus for Michigan to win a bowl game in Atlanta.
There are plenty of interesting matchups this bowl season, but the Peach Bowl is one of only two bowls outside the College Football Playoff semifinals with two top-10 teams competing.
No. 7 Michigan and No. 10 Florida are meeting for the first time as top-10 teams. The only other non-CFP top-10 matchup is No. 6 Ohio State vs. No. 9 Washington in the Rose Bowl.
The winner of the Peach Bowl could finish the season as high as fifth in the AP poll, which is a major accomplishment with elite teams such as Alabama, Clemson, Oklahoma, Ohio State and Georgia in the mix.
Michigan finished the season ranked No. 10 in 2016 and No. 12 in 2015. Even the 11-win team in 2011 finished No. 12 in the country.
A win over No. 10 Florida would guarantee Michigan at worst a top-seven finish and at best a top-five finish -- the best under Harbaugh.
Reasons the Peach Bowl could be boring
It's not for a championship
No matter how well Michigan and Florida play in the Peach Bowl, they won't have a chance at the national championship. That's the main knock against the non-CFP bowl games.
Michigan had its sights set on a Big Ten title and playoff appearance this year before the loss to Ohio State, so even a New Year's Six bowl can feel like a letdown. Florida's hopes weren't crushed the final week of the season, but the Gators did have brief hopes for an SEC East Division title.
For fans who are championship-or-bust heading into the season, the Peach Bowl probably won't be of much interest.
No unique matchup
One of the things that makes the bowl season fun for teams that aren't competing in the playoff is a chance to see teams play unique matchups against teams they wouldn't normally face. Even though Michigan usually matches up with SEC teams in the bowl game, those teams change from year to year.
Well, this is the third time Michigan has played Florida in the Harbaugh era, beating the Gators in the 2016 Citrus Bowl and the 2017 season opener. There were only 20 months between those two matchups, and now, 16 months after the most recent matchup, they'll meet again.
The two teams have certainly changed since the most recent meeting -- Florida even has a new head coach in Dan Mullen -- but it might have been more interesting to see Michigan play a different team, such as LSU or even UCF.
Stars sitting out
At least three of Michigan's best players won't be on the field for the Peach Bowl, and even though it's an understandable decision on their part, it definitely takes away from the intrigue of the game.
Michigan's top draft prospect, Rashan Gary, announced he will skip the game to prepare for the NFL draft. He's expected to be a top-10 selection, so his absence along the defensive line takes away from the No. 1 defense in the country.
Devin Bush was even more impactful at the center of the defense this season, but he won't play in the Peach Bowl as he rehabs a hip injury. Bush is an All-American linebacker who flies around the field and is one of the most entertaining defensive players in the country. Without him, Michigan's defense loses its anchor.
Karan Higdon will also sit out the bowl game after leading Michigan's offense with 1,178 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns. Higdon returned to Michigan with a goal to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark, and he did so in just 11 games.
It's unclear if any other Michigan or Florida players will sit out, but the Peach Bowl has already lost some of its luster with the absence of three stars.
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