Wednesday January 1, 2003Florida Defeated In Outback Bowl, 38-30
Earnest Graham ran for 120 yards and two touchdowns
In a game featuring seven lead changes and one tie No. 11 Michigan defeated No. 20 Florida, 38-30, in the Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. Wednesday afternoon.
Quarterback Rex Grossman threw for 323 yards, his 17th 300-yard passing game of his career. He completed 21-of-42 passes and two TDs.
On the first play of the second quarter, Grossman connected with junior running back Ran Carthon for a 51-yard pass, setting up one of back-to-back touchdowns by senior back Earnest Graham to give Florida a 13-7 lead. With 27 seconds remaining in the half, the Wolverines completed an 80-yard drive as Ronald Bellamy caught an eight-yard pass from quarterback John Navarre to give Michigan a 21-16 lead at the half.
Cornerback Keiwan Ratliff had his first career touchdown reception with 10:31 remaining in the third quarter. His 33-yard catch capped an 80-yards drive to give the Gators a 23-21.
Michigan’s Chris Perry rushed for consecutive touchdowns to build the Wolverines lead to 12 at 35-23.
Midway through the fourth quarterback Florida regained momentum, sparked by a 27-yard catch by tight end Ben Troupe, to set up a touchdown by Aaron Walker on a three yard pass from Grossman. On the next drive, Michigan drove 50 yards to set up a 33-yard field by Adam Finley to put the Wolverines ahead 38-30 for the final score of the afternoon.
Florida out rushed Michigan 183-104 as Graham ran for 120 yards on 22 carries. He became the first back in school history to rush for over 100 yards in three bowl games during his career. Finishing his career with 3,065 rushing yards, Graham became only the fifth Gator in school history to rush for over 3,000 yards in his career and also ranks third in school history with 33 career rushing touchdowns.
Carthon combined for 121 total yards with six carries for 56 yards and a career-high 65 yards on three catches. The 51-yard catch that began the second quarter established his career-high.
“I thought we ran the ball extremely well,” head coach Ron Zook said. “We had 180 yards rushing. Usually when you have 180 yards rushing, you feel pretty good about that. We played an awfully good football team, and when you play a good football team you can’t make some of the mistakes we made. There’s a lot more positive out there for us than negative. We’ve got a lot of work to do, we’ll start right away and go from there.”