ATLANTA - The Michigan football team will finally be back in action Saturday as it takes on Florida in the 2018 Peach Bowl.
No. 7 Michigan has had a full 35 days to lament its 62-39 loss at Ohio State, which turned a potential College Football Playoff appearance into a disappointing end to an impressive season.
The Wolverines finished tied atop the Big Ten East Division at 8-1 after a pair of tough road losses bookended a 10-game winning streak. Michigan lost to playoff participant Notre Dame to open the season before rolling through the rest of the Big Ten en route to Columbus.
It's not the ending Jim Harbaugh envisioned, but his team has a chance to win a rare 11th game.
Michigan has been playing football since 1881 but has only won 11 or more games nine times. The most recent instance came in 2011, when Michigan won the Sugar Bowl over Virginia Tech.
Harbaugh has already won 10 games three times in four seasons at Michigan. A victory in the Peach Bowl will give him his most wins in a season, as well as his best Big Ten finish and a road win over Michigan State. It would feel like a fairly successful season.
It's the first trip to the Peach Bowl for Michigan, which is one of a handful of programs to win at least four of the six major bowl games -- Rose, Orange, Sugar, Fiesta, Peach and Cotton.
A win in the Peach Bowl would put Michigan in a group with Oklahoma, Ohio State, Penn State, Notre Dame and Texas as teams that have won five of the six major bowls. No program has won all six.
No. 10 Florida comes into the game having won three straight. The Gators won nine games and finished second in the SEC East during their first season under Dan Mullen.
Three blowout losses tempered the excitement of Mullen's first season, as the Gators couldn't stay within single digits of Kentucky, Georgia or Missouri. Florida finished with a pair of impressive wins at Mississippi State and LSU.
Saturday will be the third meeting between the two teams since Harbaugh took over in 2015. Michigan smacked Florida 41-7 in the 2016 Citrus Bowl and won easily, 33-17, in the opening game of the 2017 season.
The Wolverines have won all four meetings with Florida, including a Capitol One Bowl win over Tim Tebow in 2008 and an Outback Bowl win in 2003.
Three of the team's meetings have happened in New Year's Day bowls. This will be the first December meeting between Michigan and Florida.
Other than the College Football Playoff semifinals, the Peach Bowl is one of only two top-10 matchups in bowl games. The other is the Rose Bowl, which will feature No. 9 Washington against No. 6 Ohio State.
Michigan played a top-11 bowl game in 2016, losing a 33-32 battle with Florida State in the Orange Bowl.
When Michigan and Florida met on Jan. 1, 2016, Michigan was No. 14 and Florida was No. 19. Then-Florida head coach Jim McElwain coached receivers under Harbaugh this season before accepting the head coaching job at Central Michigan University.
NFL draft prospects Rashan Gary, Devin Bush and Karan Higdon have announced they won't play in the Peach Bowl. Gary finished the season with 38 tackles and 3.5 sacks. Bush finished second on the team with 67 tackles. Higdon led the team with 1,178 yards and 10 touchdowns on 224 rushes.
The Peach Bowl will kick off at noon Saturday and air on ESPN.
Copyright 2018 by WDIV ClickOnDetroit - All rights reserved.