Wolverines feel 'deserving' of Sugar

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- For a team that was focused on peaking in November, members of No. 12 Michigan had to watch as their bowl fate was decided by other teams on a Saturday in December.

The chips fell where the Wolverines hoped they would as they discovered Sunday they would be headed to the Allstate Sugar Bowl on Jan. 3 in New Orleans, to face Virginia Tech.

But while waiting on Saturday, some players stayed glued to their televisions. Senior tight end Kevin Koger watched every game he could with teammates at redshirt junior linebacker Kenny Demens' house. They spent the day researching possible opponents and speculated matchups.

"We were going through every scenario possible," Koger said. "[We were] Googling the scenarios as games went on."

Senior linebacker J.B. Fitzgerald spent the day jokingly speculating the team was headed for every minor bowl he could think of.

But other players, such as fifth-year senior defensive end Ryan Van Bergen, stayed away from TVs, Facebook and Twitter.

"I was sick of hearing the different things and the different scenarios, how it all could play out," Van Bergen said. "We feel like we deserved a spot, and we're really excited about the opportunity to play a good team like Virginia Tech."

But some weren't happy that the Wolverines got to stay in Ann Arbor on Saturday -- either watching games or not watching games -- waiting to hear if they would receive a BCS bid.

Michigan State senior quarterback Kirk Cousins, after the Spartans lost to Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game and already figuring correctly that it meant the Wolverines were in a BCS bowl game and the Spartans were out, said Saturday that: "Michigan sat home on the couch and watched us. ... I don't see how you get punished for playing and someone else gets to sit on the couch and get what they want. If this is the way the system is, I guess it's a broken system."

With a 42-39 loss to Wisconsin, the Spartans dropped to No. 17 in the BCS standings and will be headed to the Outback Bowl to face Georgia.

But Van Bergen and Koger both said they'd have gladly been playing on Saturday in Indianapolis.

"If he wants to go sit on a couch and watch us play in the Big Ten Championship game then he can do that," Van Bergen said. "We would've loved to trade places and had that chance. All complaints aside, they had a opportunity to go to the Rose Bowl sitting right in front of them to grab, and they didn't seize the opportunity."

And while the Wolverines missed out on the opportunity to play in the Big Ten title game, they will get one more chance to play together as a team on one of the biggest stages for college football.

It's an opportunity for the seniors, who haven't experienced much success, to change their legacy at the University of Michigan.

"It kind of reestablishes what this team has been able to do and how far we've come," Van Bergen said. "It's a tremendous opportunity to put a final stamp on this year."

Chantel Jennings covers University of Michigan sports for WolverineNation. She can be reached at jenningsespn@gmail.com or or on Twitter @chanteljennings.