Nothing goes right for Michigan in Citrus Bowl loss to Vols
Tuesday, January 1st 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) _ Even when the bounces went 17th-ranked Michigan's way, its Citrus Bowl experience was a disaster.
The Wolverines, deflated early when they fumbled away a lucky break, took their worst bowl loss, falling 45-17 to No. 8 Tennessee on Tuesday.
The last time Michigan (8-4) was beaten so badly in the postseason was 1992, when Washington won the Rose Bowl 34-14.
The Volunteers led by 17 points two plays into the second quarter, and briefly held a 35-point advantage late in the game.
``Tennessee is too good for us,'' Michigan coach Lloyd Carr admitted.
Michigan's fate seemed to be sealed midway through the first quarter when its offense coughed up the ball twice on the same play. The Volunteers (11-2) quickly capitalized, and the resulting 10-point margin was too large for the Wolverines.
Quarterback John Navarre dropped the ball in Michigan territory after being sacked by defensive tackle John Henderson, but running back B.J. Askew luckily was there to scoop it up. However, Askew fumbled a split-second later and Henderson recovered at the 28.
``I felt we lost something on that play that we didn't get back,'' Askew said. ``That was a big play for Tennessee _ one of many.''
The Volunteers cashed in four plays later, with Casey Clausen hitting receiver Kelley Washington from 3 yards.
The Wolverines' next possession ended three-and-out, and it took Tennessee seven plays to advance 80 yards. That set up Clausen's 1-yard dive for a 17-0 advantage with 14:28 left in the half.
By then, Tennessee had 177 yards of offense en route to 503 for the game _ by far the most Michigan surrendered both this season and in a bowl.
The Wolverines finally got on the board 7:15 before halftime as Navarre and Askew hooked up for a 14-yard TD. Askew was one of Michigan's few bright spots, gaining 94 yards overall, earning him honors as the team's offensive MVP.
However, Tennessee answered quickly, driving 72 yards for a touchdown in less than three minutes. Clausen again scored on a 1-yard plunge to restore the lead to 17 points.
Michigan cut the deficit to 24-14 on Hayden Epstein's 28-yard field goal 37 seconds before halftime, but that was the its last glimmer of hope.
The Wolverines' drive to open the second half fizzled, and the Volunteers struck quickly yet again. Clausen hit tight end Jason Witten on a streak pattern for a 64-yard score and a 31-10 lead.
``What we wanted to do coming out of the locker room was to make a big play and, instead, Tennessee did it,'' Carr said. ``That changed the entire complexion of the game.''