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Citrus Bowl Recap: Michigan Wolverines Dismantle Florida Gators, 41-7

'Twas a rout as the SEC dropped to 5-2 in the postseason

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan had no trouble with Florida in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl, defeating the Gators 41-7.

Jim McElwain had his team humming for most of this season, but there was not much gas left in the tank during the last few games. After clobbering Georgia to advance to 7-1, Florida was still in the College Football Playoff conversation. The Gators' only loss at that point was a 35-28 defeat at LSU.

But after scares from Vanderbilt and Florida Atlantic, it became evident that the Gators were still at least a year away from returning to national prominence. That notion was reinforced by a limp performance at home against Florida State. The Gators only managed to put up two points in that game, officially sapping their momentum heading into the SEC title game.

Alabama rolled in that conference championship, leaving McElwain and company with plenty of work to do before the bowl game against Michigan. The Wolverines were coming off of a tough loss against Ohio State in the regular season finale, but they were able to pummel Florida in Orlando on New Year's Day.

Wolverines signal caller Jake Rudock went 20-of-31 passing for 278 yards and three touchdowns. His counterpart, Gators QB Treon Harris, completed just eight passes and also threw a pick.

It was a decent showing by the Gators in the first half. Tied after one. 17-7 Michigan at the half. The second half, though, was simply brutal.

In the early going, Harris had a clean pocket and was delivering some strikes to his receivers. But he erred on the stroke of halftime, throwing across his body towards the end zone. He was intercepted. Michigan seized the momentum and never looked back.

The team from the Big Ten ran away with this game in the second half, led by the efficient Rudock.

De'Veon Smith finished with over 100 rushing yards for Michigan, while Florida's leading rusher was Harris, who had 55 yards on the ground. Michigan's ground and aerial attacks were superior, but so too was the lockdown defense. Both Michigan and Florida entered the game with top-10 defenses in the FBS, but the in-state team failed to legitimize that ranking in the bowl game. Plus, Michigan's defense stepped up even without standout safety Jabrill Peppers.

Michigan essentially doubled Florida's total yards in this game, which made the second half anything but must-watch television. For Michigan fans, though, this was a beautiful day.

Both Jims -- Harbaugh and McElwain, that is -- enjoyed plenty of wins in 2015. Both seem to have their respective programs heading in the right direction. But Harbaugh's side turned in a memorable postseason performance, while the good folks in Gainesville will already be turning their attention to the 2016 season.