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Published: Tuesday, 1/1/2008

It's last chance for Michigan seniors


ORLANDO, Fla. - The frustration level is mounting for quarterback Chad Henne and the rest of the Michigan seniors.

The records are ignominious: 0-4 against Ohio State and 0-3 in bowl games.

Today marks the last opportunity for Henne and his classmates to salvage what is left of their legacy in big games as they take on No. 9 Florida (9-3) in the Capital One Bowl at 1.

"We definitely want to go out in the right way," Henne said. "We're going to put that on us. Our senior leadership is going to provide that."

After a senior season that was perpetually plagued by injuries for Henne and running back Mike Hart, the matchup with the Gators will be the first time all year both are healthy.

That was supposed to be the case in the Wolverines' 14-3 loss to Ohio State, but a lingering shoulder injury for Henne and a slowly healing high ankle sprain for Hart kept that from happening.

Both will take a New Year's Day bowl victory as a fine consolation prize.

"We have a lot to prove," Hart said. "We got our butts handed to us [against Ohio State]. We couldn't do anything.

"Ohio State has a great defense, but we could have played better than we did."

Senior co-captain and offensive tackle Jake Long said the team's main drive this week has been to earn the opportunity to savor some postseason success, and that mentality starts from the top down.

"We don't know what it's like to end the season on a high note or go out as a champion of a bowl," Long said. "The seniors really want to work hard, and this whole team, to win this game."

Illustrating that point, when asked to envision what it would take to have the perfect ending to his career at Michigan, Long replied, "Just a win."

NEW ARRIVAL: Incoming Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez arrived in Orlando yesterday in preparation to watch the Wolverines do battle at the Citrus Bowl.

No word on whether Rodriguez has had or will have any interaction with the team before the bowl game, but he is scheduled to meet with the media before today's game.

HAND PROTECTION: Florida coach Urban Meyer said yesterday that quarterback Tim Tebow will wear a protective brace on his right hand during today's game.

Tebow broke his nonthrowing hand in the Gators' season finale against Florida State while trying to stiff arm a defender. The injury is fully healed, according to Meyer, and will not limit him against Michigan.

HEISMAN JINX: Much has been made of the Heisman Trophy jinx after Ohio State quarterback and last season's Heisman winner Troy Smith struggled in the BCS championship game against Florida.

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