ORLANDO, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - The University of Florida and the University of Michigan are going to be squaring off on New Year's Day at the Buffalo Wild Wing Citrus Bowl. The teams have a lot in common -- both have coaches new to what were once college football power houses, both their names are Jim, and both have made it very clear they want to win.
Both teams were expecting expecting re-building years but wound up shocking college football fans with the Gators sitting at 10-3 and the Wolverines, sitting at 9-3. Both coaches say they're very thankful for the seasons they've had.
"When I look back over this year it's been a joy to coach this team, love the players, great bunch of guys. Our attitude is one of excitement and gratitude to be here," said Michigan Head Coach Jim Harbaugh. "I was really proud of the way our guys attacked the off season and into the season and keep developing. That fact is you can do anything you want to do. It's a choice," said Florida Head Coach Jim McElwain.
McElwain left Colorado State University, a team he'd turned around and just wrapped up a winning season with to fulfill his dream of leading a football program at a big Southeastern Conference school. "I'm just so proud of how they committed themselves. There's some guys on this team that carry a great affect with me for the rest of my life and that's something that's real," said Coach McElwain.
Jim Harbaugh left the 49ers, a team he'd taken to a recent Super Bowl ,to coach at his beloved alma mater. "I love the University of Michigan. It has been a heck of a good year," said Harbaugh.
For the first time in years, fans are pleased with their teams records, and the bowl games they're competing. Especially Gator fans. Coach McElwain ho took the UF to the SEC championship for the first time in six years in his first season leading the Orange and Blue. "I think the outstanding thing is we got a taste of it. But probably more than that, we had a group of seniors that had never been there. And ,when you think about UF there haven't been many classes that haven't played a game in that dome for an SEC championship. So, I'm really happy they got that opportunity," said McElwain.
Coach Harbaugh already putting in perspective what the victory would mean. "Personally, I would look at this as the best year I've had in football, if we win this game."
Florida and Michigan kick off at 1 p.m. Friday before packed Citrus Bowl. After the two teams were announced tickets sold out in less than 24 hours.