the ImLtledtl Luaisy - i nursaay, Noveoier 11, 1996-1
The only team worse than the lowly
Nanooks? The once-almighty Bucks
By Mark FkancemttI
Daily Sports Writer
What's going on with the crazy CCHA this season?
After the first month, surprise Notre Dame shares first,
while Ohio State has fallen off the roof to the bottom of
In a conference where anything and everything seems
to be happening, the Buckeyes find themselves with a
worse record than Alaska-Fairbanks.
Wait a minute - the Nanooks are ahead of the team
that made it to its first NCAA final four appearance last
Well, it wasn't supposed to be this way.
'At the start of this season, it looked as if Ohio State
would play itself into the upper echelon of teams. Ranked
second in the CCHA preseason poll and earning a top-ten
ranking in the U.S. College Hockey Online preseason
poll, the coaches and media already placed the Buckeyes
on a pedestal of high expectations.
The Buckeyes had the most returning players of any
team, including six of the team's top seven scorers, four
of six defensemen and both goalies - which meant they
weren't affected with the youth bug as was almost every
other team in the conference.
Add that they just came off their most successful sea-
son in program history, and one might wonder, what
could go wrong? . ..---..-
Yet so far, everything has.
Ohio State (1-3-2 CCHA, 1-6-2 over- H ky
sa) finds itself near the conference cel- Commentary
A perfect example of Ohio State's season so far came
this weekend in games against Michigan State and
Versus the Spartans, the Buckeyes had an off game.
Michigan State outshot them 44-13, and had seven more
tower-play chances leading to two goals.
And then when the Buckeyes do control a game, as
they did against Western Michigan, the loose pucks slide
the other way, goal chances are just chances and they can
scrape up only a point against teams such as the Broncos.
Even with Hobey Baker candidate Hugo Boisvert, the
team hasn't been able to put up the numbers.
"The previous games, we've been working really hard,"
Ohio State coach John Markell said. "But we have to
score goals and we haven't done that yet."
0 It looks as if the Buckeyes have become a Dr. Jekyll
and Mr. Hyde of the CCHA. The only difference is that
when Ohio State does play well, it has the luck of a
CCHA Standings I
USCHO Hockey Poll
Tmu ae. Pb. New.
1. North Dakota (16) 400 281 2
2.Boston Colege (9) 441 266 1
3. Colorado College (5) 6" 247 3
4.Maine 50-0 195 4
5. Michigan State 50-2 181 5
6. Notre Dame 7.1-1; 161 8
7. Northern Michigan 82-0 96 6
8. New Hampshire 5-0 73 7
8. Mkhign -S" 72 9
10. St.Lawrence 4-1-0 38 10
*Pu~ish~ed bi-weq1(ly try U. S. College Hockey Online. Rsuits as of Oct.
"We weren't playing that well and our role players
haven't stepped up," Markell said. "We've had a few
freshmen play better than some of our upperclassman."
But a combination of several factors have led to the
early demise of his team.
First, Ohio State shot itself in the foot with the deci-
sion to play the majority of home games this season in
the brand-new Jerome Schottenstein center.
The only problem? The Buckeyes' new home won't be
ready until the game against Michigan on Jan. 2.
Markell had to redo his team's schedule to play the
majority of the early-season games on the road.
And so far this season, the Buckeyes have become
great tourists, playing their first nine games on the road
and earning just one win.
Ohio State has also had to live with the fact that it is
are a team that can't sneak up on others as it did last sea-
"Teams are now aware of us and I think we lost track
of that fact," Markell said. "This is a new team, and I
think that they were living on last yehr."
Markell also believes that the high expectations placed
on his team caused some big butterflies.
"At Michigan those kids know from the beginning that
there's a tradition at (their) school," Markell said. "Here,
there's never been a team with as high expectations. It's a
whole new role and experience."
But there's hope in Buckeye land, because Ohio State
comes home for the first time this season.
Plus there's another light at the end of the tunnel for
the Buckeyes, because this weekend will be the first
game in which forward Eric Meloche is 100 percent.
Meloche returned from a six-game absence to give
Ohio State a much-needed spark last weekend with an
assist on Hugo Boisvert's second-period goal.
"He gives us a physical presence that we didn't have
before," Markell said. "He makes the line with Hugo
Boisvert so much better."
But the Buckeyes can't make themselves comfortable
for too long, because they face the first-place. Spartans
and a tough Northern Michigan team that clobbered the
Wolverines 6-1 on Oct. 31.
"We're finally done (on the road), but a lot of things
can happen, because we have Michigan State and
Northern," Markell said. "We know we still have to work
'Inside the Crease,' which reports on
Michigans CCH A opponents, will
appear every other Wednesday
throughout the Michigan hockey season.
Michigan cocaptain Andy Potts and several of his teammates will compete against the U.S. National Team this weekend in
Evanston In the Big Ten All-tar meet.
'MBig Ten All-Stars t
W L T Pb W.
4 0' 2 10
5 1 0 10
4 2 0 8
4 1 0 8
4 2 0 8
1 3 4 6
2 4 0 4
1 5 2 4
1 3 2 4
0 5 1,1
Confused about Michigan's
Bowl chances? Look no further
By Jim Rose
Daily Sports Editor
With two games left in the Big Ten season, college
ootball's bowl picture is as cloudy as ever. Michigan's
early-season woes are all but forgotten, now that the
Rose Bowl is once again a distinct possibility. At the
same time, Michigan's early-season woes are not com-
pletely forgotten - several other, lesser bowls are also
still distinct possibilities.
Without further ado, let's break it down.
Michigan goes to the Rose Bowl if ... : The
Wolverines win the Big Ten outright. This part is pretty
.mple, really, because they control their own destiny.
If Michigan beats Wisconsin and Ohio State to finish
8-0 in the Big Ten, it's on to Pasadena for the second
straight season. Period. But aside from that, there's not
much of a back-door plan for making the Rose Parade -
Michigan must win its next two games to be sure it's
goin' back to Cali.... unless ...
There is one other, tiny, oh-so-remote possibility here.
If Wisconsin wins out, and, through a modern mathemat-
ical miracle, manages to finish as the nation's No. 1 or
No. 2 Bowl Championship Series team - granted, a
near-impossibility because of schedule strength factors
then the undefeated Badgers would go to the Fiesta
wl, giving a 7-1 Michigan team a trip to the Rose
This scenario, however, would require Kansas State,
Tennessee and UCLA to lose in the season's final weeks,
and may even necessitate losses by Arkansas and Tulane,
both of which are also undefeated.
Michigan goes to the Citrus Bowl if ... : The
Wolverines finish in second place in the Big Ten. How
can this happen? Pretty easily. Three things have to take
place: 1) Michigan beats Wisconsin; 2) Michigan loses to
*io State; and 3) Wisconsin loses to Penn State in two
Ohio State and Michigan would then tie for the Big
Ten title, with 7-1 records. Ohio State would go to the
Rose Bowl based on the head-to-head tiebreaker, and.
Michigan, as the conference's No. 2 team, would go to
the Jan. 1 Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Fla.
Michigan goes to the Outback Bowl if ... : The
Wolverines finish the season as the Big Ten's third-place
team. From the common fan's point of view, this might
actually be the most likely scenario. Here's what has to
happen: Michigan must beat Wisconsin, then lose to
Ohio State; and Wisconsin must beat Penn State in its
final game to force a three-way tie at the top of the con-
ference (each team would be 7-1).
The Rose Bowl is then decided on tiebreakers, and
because Ohio State and Wisconsin don't play each other,
the head-to-head formula doesn't work. Wisconsin gets
the nod, because Michigan's overall record is the worst
of the three, and Ohio State, though identical in record
to the Badgers, has made the more recent trip to
Because Ohio State would have beaten Michigan, the
Buckeyes would win the rights to the conference's No. 2
spot, and thus would go to the Citrus Bowl. Michigan, as
the No. 3 team, would go to Tampa, Fla., for the Outback
Bowl on Jan.l.
Michigan goes to the Alamo Bowl if ... : The
Wolverines are the fourth team chosen from the Big Ten.
This is highly unlikely, but can happen if Penn State is
chosen ahead of the Wolverines. Michigan would likely
have to lose both of its remaining conference games, and
Penn State would have to win out.
Both teams would then share 6-2 Big Ten records, but
Penn State's overall record would be better than
Michigan's. The Alamo Bowl is Dec. 29 in San Antonio,
The qualifier: In reality, the Rose Bowl scenario is the
only concrete one. Because of BCS and conference
champion tie-in reasons, the choices there are limited.
After the Rose Bowl, however, none of this is guaran-
teed. The Citrus Bowl, while entitled to the second selec-
tion of Big Ten teams, does not necessarily have to
choose the team that finished in second place. The same
goes for the Outback and Alamo Bowls. For that reason,
the above scenarios are in fact nothing more than likeli-