JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Mississippi State displayed a program and a coach on the rise with an overwhelming performance in the Gator Bowl. For Michigan, it could have been the final blow for its beleaguered coach.
Chris Relf accounted for four touchdowns, Vick Ballard ran for three scores and coach Dan Mullen’s 21st-ranked Bulldogs routed Rich Rodriguez’s Wolverines. The 38-point drubbing was the worst bowl loss in Michigan’s storied history.
The Wolverines (7-6) were out of this one early, done in again by a defense that made a middle-of-the-pack Southeastern Conference offense look like a juggernaut.
Relf and Ballard posed problems all day. Relf completed 18 of 23 passes for 281 yards and three touchdowns, and added 30 yards and a score on the ground. Ballard ran for 76 yards. The Bulldogs (9-4) finished with 485 yards, had five fourth-down conversions and capped a surprising season with a dominant victory.
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“We went from average to good and now we want the ability to go from good to great,” said Mullen, the second-year coach who went 5-7 in his first year in Starkville, Miss. “Hopefully that (win) catapults us into the step from good to great.”