Capital One Bowl Preview: Mike Hart Is Overrated

I'll be previewing the Capital One Bowl for the next few days. In the interest of full disclosure, I was a Notre Dame fan as well as a Florida fan as a kid. As the title above shows, I can't stand Michigan, a remnant of being an Irish fan.

Normally, when you encounter a thousand yard back in a bowl game, there is some concern. In the case of Mike Hart, that is true because he has two legs and can stand upright most of the time. As for everything else, well, sometimes the stats lie.

Hart is a second team All-American with 1232 yards of total offense but he only had 33 carries for 154 yards in his last five games. He was nursing a bum ankle late in the season and Michigan chose to rest him in wins against Illinois, and Minnesota. After 15 carries for 110 versus Michigan State, Hart missed the loss to Wisconsin and then had 18 carries for 44 yards in the Ohio State game.

Even without those 154, Hart was over 1000 yards by game seven. But where did those yards come from? In three games this season Hart was over 180 total yards; 188 vs. Appalachian State, 187 versus the Irish, and 215 against Eastern Michigan. What are the rush defense rankings of these teams? 87 (in I-AA), 95, and 96, respectively.

Take away those three games and he's down to 642. He had only seven catches, so if he's in the backfield, don't expect him to swing out and catch like McFadden or LSU's backs.

The Gators' rush defense is 10th and Hart has faced two defenses better than that; 6th ranked Penn State and 3rd ranked Ohio St. Against Penn St., Hart had 153 yards on 44 carries (no catches) for about 3.5 yards per carry. In the finale with OSU, he was down to 2.4 yards per carry (18 carries, 44 yards).

Maybe it's not fair to deconstruct Hart's season, especially considering the extra rest he is getting and emotions that will be going on January 1st. But the point is that he is not the biggest concern. It's Chad Henne.

Coming tomorrow, Michigan's passing game.

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