Michigan 38, Florida 30
-- For all the problems Michigan tailback Chris Perry gave Florida on the field, nothing matched what Gators Coach Ron Zook did to his own team.
Perry set a Wolverines bowl record with four touchdowns, and Zook made a number of questionable calls that helped No. 12 Michigan to a 38-30 victory over No. 22 Florida in the Outback Bowl today.
Bulling through the middle and taking advantage of screen and swing passes galore, Perry accounted for 193 yards -- 85 rushing and 108 receiving.
"I wouldn't say it was my best game, but it was one of them," he said.
His last two touchdowns lifted the Wolverines (10-3) from a two-point deficit to a 35-23 lead in the third quarter, and from there, Michigan held on -- with plenty of help from Zook.
Playing in possibly his last game for the Gators (8-5), junior Rex Grossman threw for 323 yards and two scores.
But with the game on the line, last season's Heisman Trophy runner-up didn't have the ball in his hands. Instead, he was running a pass pattern.
With the Gators trailing 38-30 and moving downfield nicely with a minute left, Zook called for a trick play from the Michigan 27.
Freshman cornerback-turned-receiver Vernell Brown took the ball on a reverse and, under heavy pressure, lobbed a terrible pass that was intercepted by Victor Hobson to seal the victory.
Grossman was the intended receiver, and Zook explained he would have been open because the Wolverines were in man coverage.
"I okayed the play. I was on the headset," Zook said of the call that came from offensive coordinator Ed Zaunbrecher.
"We brought it up early in the series," Zook said. "I asked, 'Are you sure we want to do this?' We had worked on it. Sometimes it would work, sometimes it doesn't."
Grossman, who still hasn't decided whether he'll return for his senior season, said the play worked in practice all the time.
"It's a risky call," he said. "But you can get some good rewards, too. It can go both ways."
Hobson said he was shocked to see Brown, a high school quarterback who hadn't thrown a pass all season, making the key throw of the game. Meanwhile, Michigan quarterback John Navarre stood on the sideline in shock.
"I can't comment on coaching decisions because I'm not a coach," Navarre said. "You just never know how those kind of plays are going to work out."
Of course, that play may have only masked another series of questionable calls by Zook.
After Earnest Graham's touchdown gave the Gators a 13-7 lead in the second quarter, Zook inexplicably called for a two-point conversion try out of an unbalanced set. It failed. Later, when the Gators scored a touchdown to go ahead 22-21, Zook went for one point, not two because, he said, "it was too early."
Thus, the Gators found themselves behind by eight points late, instead of seven.
Grossman finished 21 for 41 and wasn't necessarily the best quarterback on the field. Navarre went 21 for 36 for 319 yards.
Nursing a 35-30 lead with five minutes left, Navarre hit Perry on a screen for a 30-yard gain to set up a field goal.
The Gators hit the five-loss mark for the first time since 1989, the year before Steve Spurrier took over the program and brought it to national prominence.
"This is not up to the standard that's been set around here," Zook said. "And it's not up to the standard we're going to have around here."