Mississippi coach Billy Brewer said all along that he thought Michigan

GatorBowlwould be the best team his club would face this season.

Brewer changed his mind Tuesday after watching the 12th-ranked Wolverines destroy his Rebels 35-3.

"They are the best football team we've ever played at Ole Miss . . . ever," Brewer said.

"They kept us spread out, and we didn't expect them to throw as much as they did," he added.

"We were able to mix up the run and the pass . . . able to open up into their secondary," Michigan first-year coach Gary Moeller said.

Elvis Grbac threw a career-high four touchdown passes, including two long scoring throws to Desmond Howard, as Michigan rolled up a Gator Bowl-record 715 yards and 35 first downs.

"We used play action most of the day to open things up," said Howard, who caught six passes for 167 yards.

The Wolverines scored three touchdowns in the third period, moving to a 35-3 advantage on Grbac's 31-yard TD pass to Derrick Alexander.

Grbac completed 16 of 25 for 296 yards before leaving in the final period.

Michigan accumulated 563 yards in the first three quarters, including 290 alone in the third period.

"We just exploded," senior fullback Jarrod Bunch said. "The truth is, we practiced so hard we were getting on each other's nerves."

Howard caught touchdown passes covering 63 and 50 yards from Grbac, who also threw 7 yards to Bunch for another score. Bunch also scored on a 5-yard run in the third quarter.

Howard, a sophomore, caught six passes for 167 yards to establish a Michigan bowl record, surpassing Anthony Carter's 141 yards in a 1979 Gator Bowl loss to North Carolina.

Moeller capped his initial season as the Michigan head coach with six wins and a bowl victory. Moeller's predecessor, Bo Schembechler, went a decade and eight postseason games before winning his first bowl.

Mississippi, which had hoped to win 10 games for the first time in its history, scored its only points midway through the second quarter on Brian Lee's Gator Bowl record 51-yard field goal.

Lee had missed seven straight tries coming into the game and was just 3 of 13 on the season with his last field goal a 19-yard kick Sept. 29 against Tulane.