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November 21, 1997 - Image 26

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1997-11-21

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T T i! Li i i:i L:f J i I Y V Y. 4 4 4 V 1 ! J I

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0 THE Bove
Ptayers, past and present, come to
Michigan for shot at Rose Bowl

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By John Leroi
Daily Sports Writer
rty-nine years is a long time to wait. But that's just how long it's been
Fsince the Michigan Wolverines won their last national championship.
Bennie Oosterbaan was in his first year as coach. Dominic Tomasi was
the team captain. Harry Truman was President of the United States.
Forty-nine years isn't even that long of a draught for most schools - many
would be content with just one national championship. But for a program that
ranks first in college football history in all-time wins and No. 2 in the composite
of Associated Press football polls from 1936 to the present.

Does undefeated and
top-ranked Michigan have a
legitimateshot at the
national championship? It
might be a bigger longshot
than you think

By Danielle Rumore
Daily Sports Editor
The words are unforgettable. They are
ingrained in the heads of every Michigan
football player, the words spoken by leg-
endary. Michigan football coach Bo
Schembechler that have come to repre-
sent Michigan football.
'Those who stay will be champions."
Michigan players, past and present,
have said that they came to Michigan to
be champions. The highly sought-after
championship is the Rose Bowl and it's
not only meaningful to Michigan, but to
the Big Ten as a whole.
After Michigan beat No. 4 Ohio State
earlier today, the Wolverines earned the
right to represent the Big Ten in the Rose
Bowl this year. It is the Wolverines first
Rose Bowl berth since the 1993 Rose
Bowl when they beat Washington, 38-31.
"You always hear about Michigan and
going to the Rose Bowl, all the great.
teams they had in the past and all the tra-
dition," said defensive end Glen Steele,
before the start of the 1997 season.
"That's the one thing that really led me
this way."
Today's victory not only sealed
Michigan's Rose Bowl fate, but handed
the Wolverines their first Big Ten title
since the 1992 season.
"Those who stay will be champions."

Until the Wolverines topped the
Buckeyes today, Schembechler's words
were more of a haunting reminder of past
success than a motivating factor.
Michigan football suffered through
four straight four-loss seasons starting
after the last victory over Washington.
The Rose Bowl became a distant memo-
ry. In fact, no player on the current
Michigan roster has played in a Rose
Bowl. That is, until now. At the beginning
of the season, Steele said, "We're trying
to get to where we want to be and that's
the Rose Bowl and winning the Big Ten."
Playing in the Rose Bowl, "was always
something I wanted to do, even before I
came to Michigan" said Baltimore
Ravens wide receiver Derrick Alexander,
who played for Michigan from 1989-90-
92-93. "When you get out there, you can
tell it's something special."
The Rose Bowl has featured the Big
Ten and Pac-10 champions since 1947.
And every year since then, each team in
the two conferences has fought for a
chance to represent their school in
Pasadena.
Unlike any other bowl game, the Rose
Bowl is considered one of the more tra-
ditional and significant bowl games.
"What makes it special is that it's the
result of a championship," Michigan
offensive coordinator Mike DeBord said.

"They call it 'The Granddaddy of Them
All', and that's what it is."
Said Senior Associate Director Fritz
Seyferth and former Michigan fullback
(1968-71): "The Rose Bowl is special
because it rewards the team for its excel-
lence. It is, and certainly was, the bowl
game of all bowl games."
Michigan has more Rose Bowl appear-
ances than any other Big Ten team, and it
has played in 22 consecutive bowl games
but the Rose Bowl had been absent from
that string since the 1992 season.
And it has been missed.
Under Schembechler's 21-season
reign, the Wolverines went to Pasadena
10 times and won the bowl twice. The
Wolverines had a run beginning in the
late '80s, when they went to.Pasadena
four times in five years. and won five-
straight Big Ten titles from 1988-1992.
"Those who stay will be champions."
Now the Wolverines will once again
be able to take part in the Rose Parade,
the game and the tradition.
"Playing in the Rose Bowl cannot be
dampened," Seyferth said. "The festival
atmosphere is unique to collegiate ath-
letics."
Said Steele: "I'm thankful for the
shot that I got to come here."
- Daily staff reporter Chris Metinko
contributed this report.

Now, Michigan has a chance to win its first
national title since '48 and only its third since
the AP poll was established in 1936. The only
problem is, though Michigan is No. 1 in the
AP poll and Rose Bowl bound, at least three
other teams are still in contention for the
national championship.
In fact, Missouri may have been the
Wolverines' best bet to win the title, if the
Tigers could have upset then-No. I Nebraska.
But a miracle touchdown that was kicked by
one Cornhusker wide receiver then somehow
caught by another forced overtime and, unfor-
tunate for Michigan, led to a Nebraska victo-
ry.
The Wolverines jumped to No. I in the AP
poll because Nebraska had so much trouble
with an unranked team, but that doesn't mean
they'll stay there, even if they win the Rose
Bowl. If Florida State beats Florida today and
Nebraska wins the Big 12 championship
game next week, the two undefeated teams
would meet in the Orange Bowl. The winner
would likely nab at least a share of the
national championship, if not the whole
thing.
"We're not thinking about scenarios right
now," said Michigan All-American Charles
Woodson. "We're not even thinking about a
national championship, all I care about is
winning the Rose Bowl."
But if the Wolverines run the table, you'd
have to think they would be disappointed
without at least a share of the national cham-

pionship. And although the Rose Bowl is their
ultimate goal, the national title has to be in
the back of their minds.
"It would be nice, though," admits
Woodson.
Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said he won't
let himself think about it, but after beating
Ohio State, how can he not. Unless he's root-
ing for Florida to upset Florida State in the
swamp. If that happens, Michigan is right
back in the race.
That would mean that, even if Nebraska
finishes the season undefeated, it would face
a Tennessee or Florida State team with one
loss. Both the Volunteers or Seminoles are
capable of beating Nebraska. If Michigan
wins the Rose Bowl it would be the only
undefeated team in the country and the undis-
puted national champions.
But even if Nebraska prevails, a win over a
one-loss team might not be enough to topple
the Rose Bowl champion Wolverines, who
beat a terrific Ohio State squad and then won
the Rose Bowl.
But Cornhusker fans would have something
to say about that. If Nebraska goes undefeated
and wins the Orange Bowl, no matter who it
beats, there will be an uproar in Lincoln.
But Nebraska coach Tom Osborne is as
silent as Carr is about his prospects for the
national title.
"After barely beating
Missouri, we should

with unblemished
records. It is possible
that different teams
could top the two
polls as Georgia
Tech and Colorado
did in 1990. More likely,
however, is that pollsters
would split their first-
place votes between
teams.
Whether that would
clear anything up or mud-
die the picture more
remains to be seen, but it is
perfectly clear that Michigan
fans want the title for themselves.
And though some Wolverines may
not admit it, the players want it just
as much.
"That's our highest goal," tailback
Chris Howard said. "If
w e w in it, it
would be
amaz-
ing."

Michigan fullback Leroy Hoard made two trips I
over Southern Cal in the 1989 Rose Bowl.

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CONGRATULATIONS
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focus on winning our
games, and not anything
else," Osborne said.
"What's out of our hands is
out of our control."

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Two teams - Penn State and
Nebraska - finished the 1994 sea-
son with undefeated records, but the
Cornhuskers were crowned national champs.
The Nittany Lions - equally deserving
according to some - got nothing but a No. 2
ranking and a lot of pity.
After that debacle, pollsters are likely to
sympathize if-,two schools finish the season

,.

Peter Warrick and the high-flying
Seminoles may have the best shot
at a national championship. Florida
State is ranked No. 1 in the USA
Today/ESPN coaches poll, one spot
ahead of Michigan, but has to get by
in-state rival Florida today to hold on
to the top spot.

The Associated Press top 5
As of November 22, 1997
1. Michigan
2. Florida State
3. Nebraska
4. Ohio State
5. Tennessee
The USA Today/ESPN top 5
As of November 22, 1997
1. Florida State
2. Michigan
3. Nebraska
4. Ohio State
5. Tennessee
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"We're not thinking about scenarios right now.
We're not even thinking about a national
championship, all I care about is winning the
Rose Bowl."
- Charles Woodson
Michigan cornerback

looI
C0 SLU

Thought to be out of the race after losing to
Florida, Peyton Manning and Tennessee are right
back In the national title hunt.

44i iAI,

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