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November 19, 2003 - Image 8

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Wednesday
November 19, 2003
www.michigandaily.com
sports@michigandaily. corn

PORTS

8

I

Can Bucks st
By Courtney Lewis
Daily Sports Editor
Michigan receiver Braylon Edwards said last Sat-
urday he doesn't think any secondary in the country
could stop the Michigan receiving corps when it's
playing well. Considering the Wolverines will face
one of the best defenses in the coun-
try this week, that was a pretty gutsy
statement.
The Buckeyes have relied on their 1
defense to win games all season, but $
much of the attention has been on
their run defense, which gives up just
50.5 yards per game. Ohio State has been more yield-
ing through the air, although many opponents have
had to abandon the running game and get pass happy.
The Buckeyes have given up just one touchdown pass
longer than 30 yards (Michigan has thrown six touch-
downs longer than 30 yards).
The hype surrounding Ohio State's run defense
prompted Michigan coach Lloyd Carr to joke that the
Wolverines wouldn't even bother to test the front line.
"I think we're probably going to have to throw
every down," Carr said. "You'll probably see us with
no backs in the backfield and just throwing."
Not likely. And if Michigan does turn to its passing
game, Ohio State's secondary won't make it easy.
Juniors Dustin Fox and Chris Gamble line up at cor-
nerback, and senior Will Allen and sophomore Nate
Salley are the starting safeties. They've combined for
seven interceptions this season.
"The secondary is, I think, faster than they were a

opc'the rew'?
year ago,"Carr said. "There's not much space. When
you catch the football, you'd better get ready to get
hit, because they're going to be around the football
because they're very athletic."
That could set up well for Jason Avant, Michigan's
physical receiver who likes to throw his body around.
He may need to play a bigger role than usual this
weekend. Despite Avant's one-handed touchdown
catch against Northwestern that was all over the
highlight reels, Edwards is still likely to be the wide-
out that attracts most of Ohio State's attention.
"Braylon Edwards is the go-to guy and (Steve)
Breaston is the number-2 guy," said Fox, who leads
the Buckeyes with three interceptions. "Number 15
(Breaston) is a great guy with high-caliber talent."
The three starting receivers are all serious threats and
all have different strengths, which makes them difficult
to defend. Double-covering Edwards means giving
room to the speedy Breaston or the bruising Avant.
So far, no team has been able to shut down the
Wolverines' passing game. Oregon, Iowa and Min-
nesota all quieted Michigan's offense for parts of the
game, but against all three, the Wolverines went to
the air at the end and had little trouble moving the
ball. And since its comeback win over Minnesota,
Michigan's offense has rolled, avoiding the dry spells
it had earlier in the season.
EXTRA SPECIAL: Breaston has excelled as a return
man, but otherwise, Michigan's special teams have
been inconsistent. Special-teams miscues haven't
really cost the Wolverines since the Iowa loss, but
there have been shaky moments. Michigan has
missed as many extra points (three) as Ohio State has

Rivalry with Ohio State
deeper than this weekend

TONY DING/Daily
Braylon Edwards makes a catch against Indiana.
missed field goals.
Ohio State tends to play close, low-scoring games,
and if the Buckeyes can dictate the style of play Sat-
urday, special teams could be crucial. That worries
former Michigan coach Bo Schembechler.
"I would say that going into this game, the one
area of their football team that I would be concerned
about would be the kicking game," Schembechler
said of the Wolverines. "Ohio State has a great kick-
ing game, and they are smart enough to play defense
and to have that kicking game and play field posi-
tion, kind of like the old days.
"The kicking game will be very, very instrumental."

'A great feeling': Blue finishes Buckeyes 38-26

CHRIS BURKE
Goin' to work
Frederic Hannan had no idea what
he was starting when he scam-
pered across the goalline for a
10-yard touchdown way back in 1897.
Hannan's score marked the first
score of the first football game
between Michigan and Ohio State. The
Wolverines went on to capture a 36-0
win in that inaugural contest, a game in
which "Michigan had no trouble in
defeating the Ohio State University
representatives," according to The
Michigan Daily's account of the game.
Fast forward to this weekend, where
the Wolverines and Buckeyes will meet
in the 100th version of The Game.
While the majority of you have prob-
ably never heard of Frederic Hannan,
there's a good chance that everyone's
familiar with some piece of Michigan-
Ohio State history.
Therein lies what sets this rivalry
apart as the best in the nation. You can't
fully grasp how special The Game is
without understanding how great it has
always been.
In 1935, the Michigan-Ohio State
game moved to the last week of the
conference season. Since then, the
matchup has played a role in determin-
ing the Big Ten champion 40 times -
Saturday will mark number 41.
Michigan's band - despite what any
Buckeye fan will tell you - was the
first to spell out the script Ohio in 1932.
(Ohio State's band later turned it into
"Script Ohio" with the rotating "O" and
the dotting of the "I").
Ohio State gave Bo Schembechler to
Michigan after he played for legendary
coach Woody Hayes at Miami (Ohio)
and then was an assistant for him in
Columbus.
And whenever the Wolverines'

grudge match with the Buckeyes rolls
around, there is always mention of the
1969 stunner when Michigan upset
Ohio State 24-12 in Bo's first year.
Just like there is always mention of
how Hayes went for a two-point con-
version at the end of a 50-14 whuppin'
of the Wolverines in 1968 because he
"couldn't go for three." To be fair,
Michigan may have run it up a little
during an 86-0 victory in 1902 during
the days of Fielding Yost's "Point-a-
Minute" Michigan teams.
Just like people 30 years from now
will look back on the day Jim Tressel
announced his presence as Ohio State
coach by all-but-guaranteeing a win in
the Big House in 2001 - and then
how he delivered on the promise.
So now we come to this.
Regardless of how much Ohio State
fans will claim they "Don't give a
damn 'bout the whole state of Michi-
gan," or how the Michigan faithful tell
you that "Ohio" is the dirtiest of the
four-letter expletives, nary a soul from
either side can ignore what this game
means.
You'll be able to pick out those with
that knowledge - they're the ones
unable to sit still in class or the ones
that leave the office early because they
can't concentrate. They're the ones who
have that feeling, all week, in the pit of
their stomach. That anxious, nervous
feeling that only a Michigan-Ohio State
game can quench.
That feeling will tell you when
you're a true Michigan fan.
It'll keep you from selling your tick-
et (shame on you that have) no matter
the price. It'll prevent you from sleep-
ing on Friday night because you can't
wait for noon. It'll let you scream your-
self hoarse on Saturday because, well, a
win will make the season.
And, most of all, it'll let you cele-
brate a touchdown from 106 years ago,
because it's just one more time that
your team was the winner of The
Game.

4

EDITOR'S NOTE: In preparation
for The Game, the Daily will count
down to Saturday's historic 100th
meeting between Ohio State and
Michigan by running excerpts from
the past four games between the
Buckeyes and Wolverines,
By Mark Francescutti
Daily Sports Editor (Nov. 20,2000)
COLUMBUS - As Ohio State
coach John Cooper left the field, the
small, but engaging Michigan posse of
fans smirked while it chanted its victory
slogan of "Two, 10 and one, two, 10 and
one."
The Michigan football team - Coop-
er's Achilles' heel for a better part of the
last 13 years - continued its curse over
the 62-year-old coach, as the Wolverines
defeated his Buckeyes 38-26 before a
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record 98,568 fans at the Horseshoe.
The victory gave the Wolverines (6-2
Big Ten, 8-3 overall) a share of the Big
Ten championship with Northwestern
(6-2, 8-3) and Purdue (6-2, 8-3). It also
almost guarantees them a spot in the
Citrus Bowl on New Year's Day.
On the other end of the field, Cooper
is now 2-10-1 against Michigan. His
Buckeyes are left with a likely Dec. 28
Alamo Bowl bid and another historic
setback.
"My record against Michigan
"should be mentioned," Cooper said. "I
can't hide behind it. My record is -
well - just awful. No one is more dis-
appointed than me."
For the Buckeyes, it remained the
same tune sung for most of the battles
with Michigan - in a close game,
they failed to execute on the snaps

that mattered.
Down by only five (31-26) with 4:14
left, the Buckeyes had 91 yards to a vic-
tory. On his own 9-yard line, quarter-
back Steve Bellisari set his sights on
Ken-Yon Rambo, who was wide open
on the left sideline thanks to a blown
Michigan coverage. But Bellisari's pass
sailed two yards too far, and Rambo
couldn't stay inbounds.
Then on 4th-and-1, Ohio State's
Jonathan Wells tried to blast up the gut,
only to get squashed back by Michigan
linebackers Larry Foote and Victor
Hobson.
"I thought we could knock them off
the ball and at least gain a half a yard,"
Cooper said.
Unlike the Buckeyes, Michigan con-
verted on its fourth with 1:18 left. After
Anthony Thomas failed to get the ball

in the endzone on three consecutive
runs, quarterback Drew Henson ran a
naked bootleg for the game-winning
touchdown.
"From the moment we took over (on
downs), in my mind I was not going to
kick a field goal," Lloyd Carr said.
The Wolverines built up a 31-1.2 lead
and turned slightly conservative in the
fourth quarter. Bellisari recovered from
his three earlier interceptions and found
some rhythm to put together two touch-
down drives to slim the lead to 31-26,
but couldn't connect on the third.
Both coaches pulled out the bag of
tricks for the new millennium battle.
Some worked, some didn't. But in the
end, when it came down to 4th-and-1, the
Michigan curse frustrated Cooper again.
"They made plays and we didn't,"
Cooper said.

Chris Burke can be reached at
chrisbur@umich.edu.

Robinson shows 'confidence'; C

By Daniel Bremmer
Daily Sports Writer
Bernard Robinson shot a respectable 46 percent
from the floor last season, but he knew that
improving his jumper would
make his game even better.
That's why Robinson spent all;'
summer working on his mid-0©5
range shot, taking "game- B'
paced" jumpers every day.
Although Robinson has
appeared in just one of Michigan's two exhibi-
tions so far this season, his 8-for-13 performance
from the floor against the NBDL's Fayetteville
Patriots left no doubt that Robinson's jumpshot is
ready to go.
"(My shot) was clicking tonight," Robinson said
following Friday's game. "It felt good out there."
"Good" might be an understatement. Robinson

looked as comfortable as ever with his
shot, as evidenced by the pair of pullup .
jumpers he hit from near the left elbow
early in the first half on Friday.
"You can see his confidence. I r
think that's the biggest difference in
Bernard Robinson (from last year),"
Michigan coach Tommy Amaker said.
"I think there's a sense of purpose about
his game, a sense of purpose about this
year, his senior year."
Robinson's improvement was evident
on Friday not only in his jumpshot, but
also in his overall game. The 6-foot-6
winger led the Wolverines in points (18),
assists (5) and steals (5) and contributed five
rebounds in his 25 minutes.
TURNING IT UP A NOTCH: BRETTMOUNTAIN/Daily
Michigan's defensive effort on Bernard Robinson
Friday was impressive, especial-

rawford delays,
ly against a squad of NBA-hopefuls who have
experience taking care of the ball.
The Wolverines forced a total of 13 steals
against Fayetteville, leading to numerous
easy baskets in transition.
"They are very athletic, and they cause
a lot of problems to open the floor for
their offense," Fayetteville coach Jeff
Capel said. "That's as athletic a
team as I've seen in college in quite
a while."
Defense is something that Amaker has
stressed.
When freshman Brent Petway threw
down a monster windmill dunk off a steal in
the first half, Amaker was more pleased with
Petway's effort to get the swipe than with the
dunk itself.
"Sometimes we can just see the end result
of something and not remember what were

school decision
the steps to get to that end result; Amaker said. "I
love the fact how he read the play, to get himself up
in the passing lane to knock the pass down to make
that play."
THE WAITING GAME: Joe Crawford, one of the top
high schQol recruits in the nation, called off a
press conference scheduled for Monday during
which he was supposed to announce which col-
lege he would sign with.
The 6-foot-4 shooting guard from Detroit
Renaissance High School has instead opted to
wait until the spring period to sign, forgoing the
early signing period which ends Wednesday.
"I want to be sure," Crawford told The Detroit
News. "I might commit early, but I'm not going to
sign until April."
Crawford has reportedly narrowed his choices
down to Michigan and Kentucky. He's ranked as
the top shooting guard in the nation by Athlon
Sports.

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