October 21, 2003
By J. Brady McCollough
Daily Sports Editor
ESPN college football analyst Trev Alberts
argued Saturday night that it's a shame the Big
Ten doesn't have a conference title game to
determine its champion.
Last season, Iowa and Ohio State both went 8-
0 in conference and weren't able to play for an
outright Big Ten title on the field.
This season, Purdue (3-0) and
Michigan State (4-0) - the only
undefeated teams left in the con- U :.
ference - are not scheduled to
play in the regular season either.
But don't tell the Michigan
football team there isn't a Big Ten Championship
The Wolverines - who now will go to the
Rose Bowl if they run the table - say they have
four Big Ten championship games, the first com-
ing Saturday against No. 10 Purdue at the Big
"We are going to take it one game at a time
and get ready for Purdue this week, because it's
going to be a fight," senior cornerback Jeremy
"It's a Big Ten championship game, and we
have to come out and be prepared."
From believing they were going to win the
national championship after beating Notre Dame
38-0 to wondering whether they could even con-
tend for the Big Ten title after losing to Iowa
Oct. 4, the Wolverines have run the full gamut of
emotions this season.
"It was hard after the Iowa loss, but we had to
just learn from our mistakes and pick up and
move on, and that's what we did," LeSueur said.
"We were able to come back and win late against
Minnesota, and now everything is in our hands
Said fifth-year senior center Dave Pearson:
"This is definitely where we wanted to be. You
want to be able to control your own destiny.
Some good things happened for us in the last
couple weeks (that have given us) control."
STEVIE SETTING RECORDS: Michigan punt
returner and wide receiver Steve Breaston's 74-
yard punt return helped him set a new Michigan
record for punt-return yardage in a season.
Breaston, who has returned 28 punts for 476
yards and two touchdowns, passed Tripp Wel-
borne (455 yards) on the all-time list.
'M'fans: Come together
right now, at Elbel Field
f there is one thing I love, it's walk-
ing down State Street Saturday
mornings during football season. It's
like running a gauntlet of parties. The
journey has got it all - sights, smells
and more stops than you can imagine.
What could be better than the smell of
hot dogs and burgers, footballs being
thrown from every direction and seeing
opposing fans getting taunted as they sit
in traffic trying to get to the Big House
without getting a hot dog in their faces?
Well actually, there may be one thing.
Imagine having a congregation of all
students at one spot as they head down
to the stadium? It would be as if every
single tailgate at every house moved to
one location. It would be a sight to see.
Where could this happen? How about
Elbel Field? Most students heading
down to the game cross through the
field as it is. Why not just get there a lit-
tle early and get ready for the game
with thousands of kids around you?
I'm not a fan of using ideas from other
schools unless I believe it would make
Michigan better. But this idea of tailgat-
ing all in one location is something that I
saw at Iowa, and it amazed me.
Let me set the stage for you. As you.
head down to Kinnick Stadium from the
campus, you pass a large parking struc-
ture before you reach the stadium.
Connected to the parking structure is
a regular open-air parking lot. This is
where the party's at.
Hundreds upon hundreds of fans
were packed into this square lot. Seri-
ously, there wasn't much room to get
People were laughing, eating, drink-
ing and waving their Iowa flags around
- all getting ready to head down to the
stadium in a few short hours. I didn't
feel threatened because I was walking
around with Michigan people, but if
they wanted to, they could easily have
given us a hard time. I don't know
exactly what time everyone got there,
but when I passed through the lot three
hours before the game, it was packed.
Of course, it was a 2:30 p.m. start.
Still, I couldn't help but think to
myself how this would play out if it
happened in Ann Arbor.
Students do one of two things Satur-
day morning: They either wake up a few
hours before the game and tailgate at
their house or a friend's house, or they
take full advantage of the fact that the
Big House has assigned seating and
wake up 15 minutes before the game
and run down there at some point dur-
ing the first quarter.
But what if everyone assembled on
Elbel Field? Wouldn't it be special?
If you've ever had a chance to go to
the Michigan golf course or the parking
lot of Crisler Arena on Saturday morn-
ing on gamedays, you would see that the
Michigan Alumni have a very mellow
version of this massive party. They're all
in one place, but just like the game itself,
they don't make much noise.
Just being together in a huge maize-
and-blue blob, though, makes it a spe-
So picture this. You wake up. You
throw on your Michigan gear, wake up
the rest of the people in your house and
start walking down to (not the game!)
Elbel Field. You arrive an hour-and-a-
half to two hours before kickoff, only to
see that the field is already crammed
with Michigan fans. You squeeze
through the gate and make your way out
on to the field.
There are people everywhere, as far
as you can see (assuming you can only
see to the end of Elbel Field). You grab
a couple hot dogs, talk some Michigan
football with your buddies, do the claw
-just have a great time.
All of a sudden, from out of nowhere,
the band strikes up, and everyone starts
singing "The Victors."
As the song ends, everyone picks up
and heads to the stadium. Of course,
they would have to jump the fence,
because it would take forever to squeeze
through that little opening.
That would be something to see.
Naweed Sikora can be reached at
Michigan wide receivers Jason Avant (left) and Steve Breaston (right) celebrate after Breaston's 74-yard punt
return for a touchdown. The Wolverines went on to win 56-14 over Illinois.
The redshirt freshman is sixth nationally in
yards averaged per return (17.0) and is second
nationally in total punt return yards, trailing
Oklahoma's Antonio Perkins by 16 yards. Perkins
has 30 returns for 493 yards and four touch-
downs this season.
LOOKING GOOD: The Wolverines have beaten the'
Boilermakers 14 straight times in the Big House,
dating back to 1966 when Purdue quarterback
Bob Griese led them to a 22-21 win.
Michigan coach Lloyd Carr has compiled an
11-3 career record against top-10 ranked oppo-
nents during his career, winning his first nine
games against top-10 squads.
INJURY UPDATE: Carr said that backup safety
Jacob Stewart; who suffered an injury to his left
leg covering a kickoff Saturday, will likely not
play against Purdue.
Freshman T.J. Hensick won the crucial faceoff that set up Jeff Tambellini's game-winner on Saturday night.
Berenson credits 'M' faceoff
prowess for weekend sweep
By Brian Schick
Daily Sports Writer
This weekend's hockey series against
Quinnipiac resulted in a pair of one-
goal wins for Michigan. The game-win-
ning goals came late in the third period
of both games - from Brandon Kale-
niecki Friday and Jeff Tambellini Satur-
day. But coach Red Berenson feels the
game was won even before the puck
touched either player's stick.
"(Quinnipiac) lost the two games
because of two faceoffs," Berenson
said. "That's what the whole weekend
came down to was faceoffs."
To the casual observer, the faceoff is
a frequent occurrence in the average
hockey game and hardly ever has any
turned out to be the game-winner and
completed his hat trick.
"To have a guy battling like T.J. in
the middle and Nystrom blocking in
front, it's huge to have someone play-
ing that role in the middle," Tambellini
said. "Coach talks everyday in the
dressing room about how important
(faceoffs) are, and that won us the
Berenson's commitment to faceoffs
was the difference this weekend, as
Kaleniecki's game-winning goal on
Friday came off a faceoff taken by
Andrew Ebbett. Both Ebbett and Hen-
sick were quick to point out it takes
more than luck to win the faceoff. The
skill involved requires stealing the
puck from the opponent and also
What makes the faceoff even more
difficult to master is that it can't be
practiced as well as other drills in hock-
ey. Centermen typically practice face-
offs after regular practice is over, so the
responsibility falls on the individual to
hone his skills. Sometimes, groups of
players will try to create set plays for
faceoffs in hopes they will experience a
similar situation during the weekend.
"We go over faceoff plays (after
practice)," Hensick said. "We have a
few different ones we use, but you
have to win the faceoff in order for
that play to work.
"We definitely have a play (similar
to Saturday). Tambellini and I have
been trying to work on it all year, and
it finally worked and it worked at a