Michigan football starting quarterback Shea Patterson can use the Citrus Bowl as a final chance to add to his complicated legacy at U-M.
There is no question that Patterson has been an upgrade over the likes of Wilton Speight and Brandon Peters. Heck, you can make a pretty easy argument that he’s been the best signal-caller of the Jim Harbaugh era at Michigan.
Jake Rudock went 10-3 in 2015 and beat a few ranked teams including Florida in the Citrus Bowl. However, he didn’t beat Michigan State or Ohio State. Patterson is 19-6 as a starter going into the Citrus Bowl and this season alone he has led Michigan football to wins over Michigan State and Notre Dame. A win over Alabama would also mean a second straight 10-win season.
Statistically, Patterson has put together a stellar career and ranks near the top in just about every passing category. But part of that is a new era of more passing and more wide-open offenses, it just took Michigan a while to catch up. Much of the spread offense even during Rich Rod and Hoke was built around quarterback runs.
But still, there is no question that Patterson has been one of the better Michigan quarterbacks since the end of the Lloyd Carr era. His career is actually comparable to Chad Henne, except Henne was able to win a Big Ten championship as a freshman and led U-M to the Rose Bowl twice.
He was also 4-0 against Michigan State.
Patterson’s 2-0 mark against the Spartans will serve him well. He also beat good Wisconsin and Penn State teams in 2018. He has some notches in his belt, but a win over Alabama would take the cake.
Henne was able to beat Tim Tebow and Florida in the Citrus Bowl in his final game and that certainly ended things on a positive note. Beating Bama would do the same for Patterson, but it could also help Michigan get over the hump as a program.
Back when Clemson was struggling much the same way, bowl wins over LSU and Ohio State helped change the perception. The program learned to win on the big stage and the recruiting took off from there.
When it comes to talent, Michigan is behind Bama, Ohio State, Clemson and Georgia. There is no debating that. But if the Wolverines can start winning big games like this, it could help turn things in their favor and allow them to truly compete with the big boys.
And if Patterson helps orchestrate a program-changing win, it could alter the way many Michigan fans feel about him, both now and in the future.