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  • Purdue, Michigan headed in opposite directions

    Oct. 25, 2004
    SportsLine.com wire reports

    WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Just over two weeks ago, Purdue was undefeated and looked to be shifting the balance of power in the Big Ten.

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    Wisconsin and Michigan had other ideas.

    The Boilermakers had Bowl Championship Series aspirations heading into their two-game homestand against the Badgers and Wolverines, but those hopes were dashed after two losses by a combined five points.

    Purdue (5-2, 2-2 Big Ten) has slipped from No. 5 in the AP Top 25 to No. 17 and now is left looking for answers.

    "Things haven't really gone our way lately," running back Brandon Jones said. "We've made a couple key mistakes in key situations. We just have to look past that and bounce back as a team."

    The Boilermakers lost 16-14 on Saturday to streaking Michigan (7-1, 5-0). The Wolverines have won six in a row and every week look more like the most complete team in the Big Ten.

    Michigan kept pace with Wisconsin as the only teams with perfect conference records.

    The Wolverines' two freshmen -- quarterback Chad Henne and running back Michael Hart -- have led the way, improving with each game.

    Hart has been sensational the last two weeks, running for 234 yards against Illinois and 206 against Purdue. And he's benefiting from the considerable talent around him that has come together after an early season loss to Notre Dame.

    "I think Michael Hart has a good offensive line in front of him, he's got good receivers that will block well, and he's got coaches that always seem to design a way to get him the football," Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said. "He's a special kid."

    Purdue's defense would find it hard to argue after being carved up by the teenager.

    "He's a freshman, but that boy has three more years of dominating," Purdue safety Bernard Pollard said. "He's a very good back."

    And the kind of player that always seems to choose Michigan over Purdue.

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    In his eighth season at Purdue, coach Joe Tiller has helped the once-moribund Boilermakers move into the upper echelon of the conference. But after being pushed around by the bigger, stronger, faster Wolverines for the fourth consecutive time, it's clear he still has some work to do.

    "All we need is to be able to recruit everybody two inches taller than (the Boilermakers) are today, 25 pounds heavier than they are today and two or three-tenths of a second faster than they are today," Tiller said. "All of those guys happened to be on the other sideline. So we will continue in our system, and our guys playing their tails off. Given the ability they have, we'll continue to fight the good fight."

    The Wolverines defense again controlled Purdue's high-powered offense, sacking Kyle Orton three times and holding the fading Heisman hopeful to just 14-of-30 for 213 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

    "We've made a lot of strides," Carr said. "And yet, we've played great defensive football from the beginning."

    Things are shaping up well for the Wolverines, who host Northwestern and Michigan State before finishing the season at struggling Ohio State.

    Purdue, meanwhile, has to shake off the close losses to try and salvage a season that started with such promise.

    "We still have a lot of goals we can attain," receiver Taylor Stubblefield said. "If we can run the table and go 9-2, that's not a bad season. We just have to refocus and come back next week and play hard against Northwestern."

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  • RamsFan16
    Iowa, we're on to you
    by RamsFan16
    Iowa, we're on to you
    Hawkeyes too good to hoodwink nation once again
    Posted: Wednesday August 3, 2005 10:26AM; Updated: Wednesday August 3, 2005 12:40PM

    CHICAGO -- For three straight seasons, the Iowa Hawkeyes have won at least 10 games and finished in the top 10 of the final polls, each time after the preseason pollsters declared, in a nutshell, "There's no way can they do it again."

    No more.

    Various preview magazines and Web sites (including this one), apparently tired of being duped, have definitively declared the 2005 Hawkeyes to be a preseason top 10 team, in many cases ranking them ahead of Big Ten stalwarts Ohio State and/or Michigan (against whom Iowa has gone 3-2 and shared two of the past three league titles). Hawkeyes receiver Ed Hinkel is a tad perplexed about the timing of such predictions. "If anything, we should probably be lower than we have been in the past," the fifth-year senior said Tuesday at Big Ten media days. "I don't think we're as far ahead now as we've been in the past."

    Nice try, Ed, but you're not going to be pulling another fast one on us this year. Four new starters on the defensive line, two of whom have to replace All-Americans Matt Roth and Jonathan Babineaux? No proven running back? Injuries and inexperience at safety? Boo hoo. After watching Iowa go 10-2 last season despite losing two of its first four games, including an embarrassing 44-7 blowout at Arizona State, and despite losing a staggering four running backs to season-ending injuries and finishing 116th (out of 117) in the country in rushing offense, it's clear by now that no hurdle is too great for a Kirk Ferentz-coached team to overcome.

    In fact, each of the past three years has followed virtually the same script in Iowa City. Following a breakthrough, 11-2 season in 2002, the Hawkeyes had to replace Heisman runner-up quarterback Brad Banks, All-America tight end Dallas Clark and four starters off a powerful offensive line. What did they do in 2003? Go conservative on offense, make big plays on defense and special teams and beat Florida in the Outback Bowl to complete a 10-3 season.

    Last year, same story. Seven new starters on offense, no more Robert Gallery pancaking helpless defensive linemen, no more Bob Sanders making big plays in the secondary. And that was before all the running back injuries. Yet after struggling early, Iowa managed to finish the season on an eight-game winning streak, as first-year QB Drew Tate capped an All-Big Ten season with a game-winning, 56-yard touchdown pass to beat LSU as time expired in the Capital One Bowl.

    "I really don't know how we did it," Hinkel said of last year's improbable season. "One of our mottos we have posted all over our [football] complex is 'Find A Way.' That's what we did. It wasn't pretty; we weren't really a stats team. The only stat that...
    -08-10-2005, 06:49 PM
  • DJRamFan
    Saturday's Storyline: It's No. 1 Offense Against No. 1 Defense At Ohio Stadium
    by DJRamFan
    MSU's explosive offense prepares to face an Ohio State team that leads the Big Ten in rushing defense, total defense and scoring defense.

    Oct. 14, 2005

    COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - The way Ohio State offensive guard Rob Sims sees it, the Buckeyes' two losses don't take away from the fact that they belong among the top teams in the country.

    "Both of the losses we had this year were both squarely on us, just not doing our job," Sims said earlier this week. "The other teams were very good and they played very well but, I'll still say it, I think we're the best team in the country. We just shot ourselves in the foot two games."

    Ohio State's fans are wondering when the Buckeyes will run out of ammunition -- or feet.

    Next up for the wounded and 15th-ranked Buckeyes (3-2, 1-1 Big Ten) is No. 16 Michigan State (4-1, 1-1).

    It couldn't get much simpler: the Big Ten's best defense against its most prolific offense, in a game that neither team can afford to lose it wants to keep alive slim hopes of a conference title.

    "It's a big game for us, but we're trying not to make it too big," Spartans wide receiver Matt Trannon said. "We gotta go down there and take care of business if we expect to continue in the race for the Big Ten championship."

    The Spartans, led by quarterback Drew Stanton and a stable of tailbacks, are averaging 45.4 points a game. They put 44 points on Notre Dame in a three-point overtime win. A week after scoring 61 points against Illinois in the first Big Ten road game, they sustained their only loss, a 34-31 setback against Michigan, also in overtime.

    "Having a good passing game opens up your running game," Ohio State linebacker A.J. Hawk said of the Spartans' attack. "They have three great tailbacks. They can keep bringing 'em in, keeping them fresh. Their offensive line does a great job of getting out and doing things to open up the running game. When you have running backs like theirs, that's what makes them a good team. They can pass and run."





    Stanton leads the Big Ten in passing yards, averaging just under 300 a game, and tops the league in pass efficiency. He has so many potential targets that it's difficult to focus on one.

    "The beauty of this offense is you can't key on any one receiver," said Stanton, who may be called upon to run more to free up the passing lanes. "That's kind of by design."

    The Spartans have had a bye week to recover from that devastating loss to Michigan. Ohio State is still trying to overcome the lingering effects of last week's 17-10 loss at Penn State.

    Asked if that loss has the Spartans sensing problems with the Buckeyes, Ohio State linebacker Anthony Schlegel said, "We're smelling blood, too....
    -10-15-2005, 10:10 AM
  • DJRamFan
    Michigan football comes up big in must-win games
    by DJRamFan
    By Stephanie Wright Michigan Daily
    Ann Arbor, MI (U-WIRE) -- It was a combination of relief and redemption.

    Seconds after Garrett Rivals's field goal sailed through the uprights, the Michigan sideline emptied. Players gathered in a circle and started chanting, "It's great to be a Michigan Wolverine" as they jumped around and pumped their fists in the air.

    A week's worth of pressure had just disappeared.

    "When Michigan State is ranked ahead of you and you're Michigan, it's not good," tailback Mike Hart said. "There's pressure there. That's just pressure in itself. If Michigan had lost, it would have confirmed every criticism aimed at the program this season. Spread offenses own this defense. Chad Henne has succumbed to the sophomore slump. Lloyd Carr can't coach. Michigan isn't the powerhouse it used to be.

    But by beating the Spartans in overtime for the second straight season, the Wolverines proved all their critics wrong.

    No one expected this Michigan team - which blew leads against Notre Dame and Wisconsin - to hold on against the Spartans' high-powered offense. But Henne matched Drew Stanton throw for throw, and the defense allowed 21 points - 28 fewer than Michigan State's season average.

    No one expected Hart to be so spectacular in his return from injury, or wide receiver Carl Tabb to step up in place of the injured Steve Breaston. But Hart, Tabb and the rest of the offense wanted this game and accumulated 488 yards of total offense - the most it has gained in a contest all season.

    And certainly no one expected Carr to go for it on back-to-back fourth downs late in the game.

    But we should have expected nothing less. After all, it's been a long time since Michigan lost a game it absolutely had to win.

    Let's be honest: As much as we wish it could, even a program as storied as this one can't expect to win a national title every year. Teams have little control over their destinies in the BCS; it's not fair to call this season a failure simply because Michigan won't win a national title.





    Carr recognized long ago that winning the Big Ten should be the Wolverines' ultimate focus, and, in case you forgot, he's led his team to five conference titles in the past eight years. I'll guarantee Michigan will never give up its title without a fight under Carr.

    Notre Dame is a big game every year, but it's not really a must-win, because losing it doesn't affect Michigan's chances for the conference crown. In this era of parity in the Big Ten, teams can still win the title with one conference loss. True must-win games don't begin until after Michigan has a Big Ten loss. And this is when the Wolverines are most dangerous.

    The 2003 season is a perfect example. Michigan recorded two early losses to Oregon and...
    -10-03-2005, 05:25 PM
  • RamsFan16
    Iowa tops Big Ten
    by RamsFan16
    Iowa tops Big Ten
    Iowa thrashes No. 20 Michigan, remains atop Big Ten

    IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) -- After a lackluster start, Iowa (unranked ESPN/USA Today; No. 23 AP) needed something to shake out of its funk. The Hawkeyes found it in Jeff Horner's bloody nose.Horner, Iowa's floor leader, headed to the bench with four minutes left in the first half after colliding at midcourt with Michigan forward Graham Brown.His exit sparked a 12-4 Iowa run to close the first half, and the Hawkeyes poured it on to open the second en route to a 94-66 victory over Michigan (No. 20 ESPN/USA Today; No. 21 AP) Saturday.The 28-point margin is Iowa's biggest ever against the Wolverines and solidified the Hawkeyes' (18-5, 7-2 Big Ten) spot atop the conference."When our leader goes down, we're going to fight," said Adam Haluska, who led the Hawkeyes with 18 points. "The game got aggressive and we had to take it up to another level. And I think we did a great job doing just that."Did they ever.Iowa outscored the Wolverines 24-9 in the first eight minutes of the second half. A pair of free throws by Greg Brunner at the 12:43 mark put Iowa up by 20 points and the Wolverines (16-4, 6-3) never got any closer than 19 the rest of the way.Brunner had 17 points and Horner, who returned a minute after running into Brown, scored 14 points. Iowa shot a season-best 65.3 percent and its 94 points marks a season high.The victory extended the Hawkeyes' school-record home winning streak to 14, with three of the last four victories coming against ranked opponents. Illinois was also 6-2 in the conference entering the weekend and the Illini played Penn State on Saturday night."If you would have told us we were going to beat a Michigan team like that by 28, I would have probably laughed at you," said Brunner, who grabbed a game-high nine rebounds.It was hardly a laughing matter for the Wolverines, however.The loss snapped Michigan's five-game winning streak and the 28-point difference was the most lopsided of the season.Michigan came into the game shooting 47.9 percent, best in the Big Ten. But after leading by as many as eight points early, Michigan's offense unraveled against an Iowa defense that came in holding Big Ten opponents to just 37.9 percent shooting, tops in the conference.The Wolverines shot 41.5 percent overall, but just 32 percent in the second half, including 4-of-12 from behind the 3-point stripe.Daniel Horton led Michigan with 19 points, while Dion Harris had 13 and Courtney Sims 12."I was disappointed in a lot of things about our team," said Michigan coach Tommy Amaker. "As I've said before, a lot of things in this game become contagious, and it certainly was that way for" Iowa.Iowa took control early in the second half behind Haluska's hot hand. During the 24-9 run, Haluska hit three 3-pointers, including completing a four-point play by making a free throw after being knocked to the floor on his second long...
    -02-05-2006, 11:13 PM
  • RamsFan4ever
    Michigan, USC ready for Rose Bowl's stage
    by RamsFan4ever
    Michigan, USC ready for Rose Bowl's stageBy Ivan Maisel
    ESPN.com
    Archive

    BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- The Rose Bowl can give come-hither looks with its history, its tradition and its physical attributes. So, too, can Michigan and USC. Both teams reached the velvet ropes of the BCS Championship Game only to be turned away and directed westward. Both teams have had to parry questions about motivation and desire in the wake of their season-ending defeats.



    Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE
    Lloyd Carr can't believe some people don't understand how special the Rose Bowl is.The coaches of both teams, in their final pregame news conference Sunday at the Beverly Hilton, tried their best to illustrate the shortsightedness of such questions without declaring the questioners on mental vacation.

    "You just don't get it," USC coach Pete Carroll said. "The kids are jacked up. The coaches are. The fans will be. Had you not asked the questions, it would have been left behind."

    "There's something special about New Year's Day," Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said, "something special about going into that incredible setting, the Arroyo Seco, the mountains. You know you have an opportunity to play in a very, very special game. It's not really hard to sell it."

    "Those are awesome football games," Carroll said of the No. 1 vs. No. 2 game that the Trojans aren't playing in. "But they are not better. They are not better than what this is. The day you play, the game you're playing, the team across the field from you, that's the whole world. It doesn't matter what trophy they hand you . Look at the explosion of the Boston College victory [Saturday in the Meineke Car Care Bowl]. That kid kicks the field goal and they win and the team goes crazy. On that moment, on that day, it was the biggest thing in the world."



    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
    Pete Carroll knows how he'll react if USC can snap its Rose Bowl losing streak Monday.Either No. 3 Michigan (11-1) or No. 8 USC (10-2) will leave a two-game losing streak behind at the 2007 Rose Bowl presented by Citi on Monday (ABC, 5 p.m. ET). The Wolverine seniors lost the Rose Bowl as freshmen and sophomores. The Trojans lost the Rose Bowl a year ago and, on the same field, lost to UCLA a month ago.

    There's little reason to believe Michigan will play the same way it played in losing to USC, 28-14, in 2004, and Texas, 38-37, in 2005. As Carr said Sunday, "This team defensively is a much better team than we were three years ago." Michigan has allowed only 14.6 points and 43 rushing yards per game.

    The Michigan offense is much better, too, thanks largely to the switch to a zone-blocking scheme for the running game from the traditional gaps Michigan has created for decades. The new scheme has been a...
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    -01-01-2007, 01:31 PM
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