Gator Bowl



Michigan 35

Ole Miss 3

Michigan Fight Song


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) Bo is gone and the pass is back at Michigan.


"We used play action most of the day to open things up," said Michigan wide receiver Desmond Howard, who caught six passes for 167 yards and two touchdowns in the Wolverines' 35-3 Gator Bowl victory Tuesday over Mississippi.


Elvis Grbac threw a career-high four touchdown passes, including two long scoring throws to Howard, as Michigan rolled up a Gator Bowl record 715 yards and 35 first downs.


"They are the best football team we've ever played at Ole Miss, ever," said Mississippi coach Billy Brewer. "They kept us spread out, and we didn't expect them to throw as much as they did. We had an outstanding season. We can't let one bad day spoil the entire year."


The 12th-ranked Wolverines scored three touchdowns in the third period, moving to a 35-3 advantage on Grbac's 31-yard TD pass to Derrick Alexander (video). Michigan accumulated 563 yards in the first three quarters, including 290 in the third period.


"We just exploded," said senior fullback Jarrod Bunch. "The truth is, we practiced so hard we were getting on each other's nerves."


Howard caught touchdown passes covering 63 (video) and 50 yards (video) from Grbac, who also threw 7 yards to Bunch for another score. Bunch also scored on a 5-yard run in the third quarter and had a 21-yard TD nullified by a holding penalty.


Howard, a sophomore, established a Michigan bowl record with his 167 yards, surpassing Anthony Carter's 141 yards in a 1979 Gator Bowl loss to North Carolina.


Michigan (9-3) accumulated 324 yards in the air as Grbac completed 16-of-25 for 296 yards before retiring in the final period.


"We were able to mix up the run and the pass, able to open up into their secondary, said first-year

coach Gary Moeller, who succeeded Bo Schembechler this season.


Schembechler favored the run during his 21-year reign at Michigan.


Ole Miss (9-3) scored with eight minutes left hi the half when Brian Lee kicked a Gator Bowl record 51-yard field goal. Lee had missed seven straight tries coming into the game and was just 3 of 13 on the season with his last field goal a 19-yard kick Sept. 29 against Tulane.


Mississippi, which had hoped to win 10 games for the first time in its history, drove to the Michigan 4 with 4:50 left before Russ Shows was intercepted in the end zone.


Michigan failed to convert several other scoring chances because of penalties and turnovers, including a fumble by Ricky Powers at the Mississippi 1 early in the final quarter.


Jon Vaughn gained 128 yards and Powers added 112 for the Wolverines, who finished their season with six straight wins.


Both clubs were hampered by turnovers. Mississippi lost the ball six times and Michigan three.


The victory evened Michigan's Gator Bowl record at 1-1 while Ole Miss dropped to 1-2 in its Gator Bowl appeapances.


Grbac's four touchdown passes were a personal best and tied a Michigan bowl record for touchdown passes.


For the first time in 46 Gator Bowls, an entire offensive line was awarded Most Valuable Player honors. Michigan's Tom Dohring, Matt Elliot, Steve Everitt, Dean Dingman and Greg Skrepanak shared the award.


Michigan set a Gator Bowl record with 715 total yards. The previous record was 569 by Florida State in 1985 against Oklahoma State. The Wolverines also set a record for the most first downs with 35, breaking the record set by Florida State of 31 in 1985.


The 63-yard touchdown pass play from Grbac to split end Desmond Howard with 1:04 remaining in the first quarter was the longest of Grbac's career. His previous longest was a 56-yard touchdown pass against Illinois earlier this year.Howard's two touchdown receptions of 63 yards and 50 yards are his longest of the season. His previous longest was 44 yards.


The New Year's Day game was the first-ever meeting between Michigan and Mississippi. It was Mississippi's third Gator Bowl appearance. It defeated Florida 7-3 in 1958 and lost to Auburn 35-28 in the 1971 Gator Bowl, in which quarterback Archie Manning was the most valuable player. Michigan's only previous trip to the Gator Bowl was in 1979, when the Wolverines lost to North Carolina 17-15.


Although this is Gary Moeller's first year as Michigan's head coach, it was his second bowl victory. Moeller ran the Wolverines in place of the ailing Bo Schembechler in the 1988 Hall of Fame game, a 28-24 win over Alabama.


The Michigan offensive line were the MVP's and the defense pressures this punt.


Ole Miss was able to stop the Wolverines only on occasion.


Coach Billy Brewer encourages the Rebel bench with the game still close in the third period.


Ole Miss' one bright moment was Lee's 51 yard field goal.


Attendance: 68,927


Scoring Summary


First Quarter 

UM- Howard 63 yard pass from Grbac (Carlson kick)


Second Quarter 

OM- FG Lee 51

UM- Bunch 7 yard pass from Grbac (Carlson kick)


Third Quarter 

UM- Howard 50 yard pass from Grbac (Carlson kick)

UM- Bunch 5 run (Carlson kick)

UM- Alexander 33 yard pass from Grbac (Carlson kick)


Individual Statistics



UM- Vaughn 15-128, Powers 14-112, Bunch 11-54, Legette, 5-54, Washington 3-15

OM- Baldwin 8-53, Thigpen 6-32, Billing 2-6



UM- Grbac 16-25-296, Sollom 4-7-28

OM- Shows 12-20-150, Luke 5-11-65



UM- Howard 6-167, Alexander 2-50, VanDyne 3-32, Bunch 2-22

OM- Roberts 4-67, Brownlee 4-58, Owens 3-42, Baldwin 2-15, Small 1-25