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December 14, 2004 - Image 12

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-12-14

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Tuesday
December 14, 2004
sports. michigandaily. com
sports@michigandaily. com

,PORTS

I

12

- - - - - ---------- -----------

Rose Bowl * No. 6 Texas vs. No. 13 Michigan " Jan. 1, 2005 * 4:45 p.m. * ABC

ANew

rontier

The Michigan Daily and The Daily Texan exchange words of wisdom before the Wolverines and the Longhorns play on New Year's Day.

Longhorns
poison Rose
Bowl aura

Michigan season
not worthy of BCS

BOB HUNT
The Michigan Daily -
ucked deep inside a valley at the foothills
of the San Gabriel Mountains, the Rose
Bowl is the best place to be in America on
New Year's Day. The gorgeous weather - which
is almost as big of a tradition as the parade - and
the ambiance make The Pasadena Tournament of
Roses the best tradition in sports.
Growing up in Chicago and Los Angeles, I
vividly remember watching the Rose Bowl on
television each year with my family. People in
the Midwest and West Coast view the event in a
similar light, and many hope that someday they
themselves will be able to watch their favorite
team in Pasadena. 1
That is why I am so glad that the Cal Golden
Bears have been invited to play in this year's
game. The Golden Bears haven't played in the
Rose Bowl since 1959. And while they're not
champions of the Pac-10, they've had a tremen-
dous year, outplaying No. 1 Southern Cal. in its
one regular-season blemish. Cal is clearly deserv-
ing of a California dream.
a OK, maybe I'm in denial. Maybe I have to
accept that Cal's dream has died, and that Texas
will be in the Rose Bowl instead. But I'm still not
happy about it.
You people in Austin, Texas, may be thrilled
that you are going to a BCS game. Good for you.
The Longhorns did finish 10-1. Michigan can't say
that. But I know that any of the other corporate-
whore BCS games would have sufficed.
I'm here to tell you just being happy about mak-
ing a BCS game is not good enough. This is the
Rose Bowl, a country club that you don't belong
to. You aren't welcome, either. It's a country club
that doesn't discriminate against race, sex or any-
thing like that. But it doesn't like outsiders crash-
ing the party.
The Pac-10 and Big Ten conferences don't
just have tie-ins to the Rose Bowl, they OWN
the Rose Bowl. The game is actually owned in
a consortium with the two leagues. The reason
it even joined the BCS in the first place was to
give the two leagues a fair chance at the national
title.
But for college football's best game, it's been
nothing short of a disaster. Thanks to some com-
plaining (No. 3 Kansas State was snubbed from
the BCS in 1998, creating the provision forcing
the Rose Bowl to pick Texas), some begging and

TONY DING/Daily
Senior receiver Braylon Edwards is hoping that this season's Rose Bowl turns out better than Michigan's 28-14
loss to Southern Cal. last year.

PHIL ORCHARD
The Daily Texan
Digging up smack about Michigan
didn't turn out as easy as I origi-
nally planned. If the national
media couldn't see it, how could I?
Put it this way. Texas has never played
Michigan in the storied histories of
both programs, so I can't point to score-
board. I don't know anyone from or near
Michigan. If I hadn't flown over it once, I
might even be skeptical of its existence.
I asked around to see if someone
could offer a morsel of slam against these
Wolverines.
Nothing.
I looked online and rifled through its
famous history and 11 national champi-
onships.
Nothing.
I dusted off my encyclopedia, read
about the Great Lakes State and looked
at pretty pictures of the Rust-Belt belt
buckle.
Nothing.
Maybe all I knew - other than that
Michigan has a big stadium, a history
similar to that of the Longhorns and a
cool fight song - are the same tired cli-
ches I'm sure you get from your friends
in Columbus and East Lansing each year.
Michigan football fans suck. The
85,000 orangebloods that stumble in
and pack out Longhorn games would
drown out the Big House's 111,000. Or
so I heard.
Michigan had to pay its basketball
players. Or so I read.
Detroit truly is terrible place to play
and watch sports. Or so I saw when those
two chumps in Pistons jerseys waddled
onto the court and challenged Ron Artest
to a fist fight.
But in all actuality, Texas and Michi-
gan are strikingly similar and seem like
the perfect New Year's match.
Both schools have a pesky and rather
delusional ag school claiming a share of
their beloved states, as well as a lesser
school from a lesser state keeping tem-
pers flared.
Both are top-notch public schools
seeping with a type of self-perpetuating
arrogance about our greatness that pisses
off our rivals and makes us, well, great.
It should be part of football fairytale.
Texas in the Rose Bowl (first time in

Longhorn history) against likewise tradi-
tional powerhouse Michigan (also a first).
It'd all be perfect - if Michigan
actually deserved to be in the Rose Bowl.
Beneath this incessant West Coast
whining about Texas's BCS "steal" is
hidden a far more shameful fact that too
many seem willing to overlook.
Michigan (can replace with BCS bot-
tom-feeders Pitt and Virginia Tech) rep-
resents all that is ugly and wrong about
the BCS.
If tradition still mattered, it would be
Cal and Michigan (actually Michigan
and USC, with Cal still going to the Holi-
day). That's a given. Texas would fulfill
its BCS dreams against Utah in Tempe,
and no one would complain.
But tradition began to die with TV
contracts and when student athletes
became pawns in the bigger money
game. Now we have a system that is
fatally flawed and in dire need of change.
All that's left is controversy, broken
hearts and teams like Michigan - squat-
ters in undeserved BCS spots.
The Wolverines lost twice, to not-so-
great teams not named Oklahoma or
USC, yet still received an invitation to
the party. Meanwhile, Cal gets screwed
and Texas gets blamed.
Apparently Texas -not the system,
not the teams like Michigan who lost
twice and eked out wins to Michigan
State, Purdue, Minnesota and, gasp, San
Diego State - is the problem. Or so the
national media would like you to believe.
When exactly did Michigan do any-
thing impressive this season? Mack
Brown may be justifiably criticized for
pleading with his media - but it's not as
if Lloyd Carr would ever even need to,
playing in the lackluster Big Ten.
Bottom line, Texas beat five teams
with seven or more wins and bounced
back from the annual Oklahoma loss
admirably. Michigan had a nice season
not really worthy of a Rose Bowl, but
will be in Pasadena regardless, as if it
were their birthright.
But we're glad it's Michigan, this
traditional underachieving powerhouse.
Two great programs. One easy win.
If you're looking for a way to silence
these whining critics, a blowout should
suffice.
Phil Orchard serves as senior football
writerfor The Daily Texan. A bleeding-
heart sentimentalist, Orchard laments the
corrosion of tradition in college football
daily. He also thinks Roy Williams looks
lost in Detroit. Orchard can be reached at
phildavid@mail.utexas.edu.

some abuse of the system (I wonder who voted the
Longhorns second in the final coaches poll?), the
Longhorns are heading to Pasadena.
The people of the San Gabriel Valley are prob-
ably dreading the thought of seeing thousands of
people with burnt orange shirts and cowboy hats
walking around Old Town Pasadena. Let's just say
they won't be ready to "Hook 'em Horns" on New
Year's Day.
Assuming next year's national championship
game is not a Big 10-Pac-10 affair, we are in the
middle of a five-year stretch where there will be
just one traditional Rose Bowl matchup. Likewise,
there's one conference that has been most repre-
sented in the "Granddaddy of Them All" in my
four years in Ann Arbor - The Big XII. Yuck!
You can tell me all you want about how The Big
XII is superior with its vaunted North Division
champion Colorado, but its teams do not belong in
the Rose Bowl.
As someone who covers football in the Big Ten,
I don't really know anything about Texas, nor do
I care to learn. The closest I've ever been to the
state of Texas was the afternoon I ended up in
Norman, Okla. You heard of it?
Despite Texas's inability to beat Oklahoma in
the Red River Shootout every year, there's some-

thing that boggles me even more about the Long-
horns. How does Oklahoma mess with Texas every
year in recruiting Lone Star State kids? Texas is
supposed to be the better school, and Austin is sup-
posed to be the better city. Adrian Peterson grew
up a Texas fan, and finished second in this year's
Heisman race ... as a Sooner freshman.
Well, I guess that's OK. You know, Charles
Woodson is from Ohio.
Texas does have this year's Doak Walker Award
winner, Cedric Benson. But this is the player who
said publicly that he'd rather win the Heisman
than beat Oklahoma. That worked out real well.
And Ricky Williams, he's a troubled boy. Have
you seen him?
It's funny. If the Tournament of Roses Associa-
tion didn't decide to spruce up its festivities in
1902 with a football game, the bowl system may
have never been created and Mack Brown would
have the playoff he clamors so hard for. Instead,
he's poisoning the Rose Bowl.
Bob Hunt is a football writer and sports editor
at The Michigan Daily. While he is upset, he says
he won't hold it against Texas fans. If you recognize
him in Pasadena, he may even buy you beer. He can
be reached at bobhunt@umich.edu.

Blue vs.
Last year's Rose Bowl game had
everything the "Granddaddy of
Them All" is supposed to. It featured
the Pac-10 and Big Ten champs - in
Southern Cal. and Michigan, respec-
tively - and even national champi-
onship implications, even though it
wasn't supposed to.

Texas: Pasadena matchup should be close

It all makes this year's game
between No. 12 Michigan - com-
ing off an upset loss to Ohio State
in November - and No. 6 Texas
- which snuck pass Cal in the BCS
Standings thanks to some help in
the coaches' poll - somewhat of a
letdown.

I

MICHIGAN PASSING OFFENSE VS. TEXAS
PASSING DEFENSE:
This matchup comes down to how fresh-
man Chad Henne performs in his first bowl
game. The honorable mention All-Big Ten
quarterback has grown exponentially dur-
ing his freshman season. In his last game,
Henne threw for 328 yards against Ohio
State, but a fourth-quarter interception on
the Buckeyes' goalline ended any chance of
a Michigan comeback. Texas's secondary
is mediocre, but it features a talented safety
duo. Junior Michael Huff, a first-team All-
Big XII performer this year, is arguably the
nation's top strong safety, while senior free
safety Phillip Geiggar earned second-team
All-Big XII honors.
Edge: Michigan

MICHIGAN RUSHING OFFENSE VS. TEXAS
RUSHING DEFENSE:
True freshman running back Mike Hart
burst onto the scene this year, earning
first-team All-Big Ten honors with 1,396
rushing yards. Hart is coming off his least
productive effort as a starting running back
- 18 rushes for just 63 yards against the
Buckeyes. The Texas rush defense gives up
just 106 yards on the ground per game (14th
in the nation). Up front, the Longhorns fea-
ture two talented defensive tackles in Larry
Dibbles and Rod Wright - both second-
team All-Big XII picks. But the defense is
paced by all-everything linebacker Derrick
Johnson, who has racked up some gaudy
numbers (128 tackles, 19 tackles for loss
and an unbelievable eight forced fumbles).
Edge: Texas

TEXAS PASSING OFFENSE VS. MICHIGAN
PASSING DEFENSE:
The Longhorns' efforts to run the ball
with quarterback Vince Young and run-
ning back Cedric Benson may hinge on
how effective Young is through the air.
Texas managed just under 164 yards
passing per game - a number bested
by 104 Division I teams. Wide receivers
Tony Jeffery and David Thomas are the
team's two leading pass catchers, but nei-
ther posted more than 400 yards receiv-
ing this season. Michigan coughed up
241 yards passing to Ohio State's meager
aerial attack, and cornerbacks Marlin
Jackson and Leon Hall will likely be in
man-to-man coverage as the Wolverines
try to stuff the run. If the Longhorns have
success in this category, it will be a long
day for Michigan's defense.
Edge: Michigan

run - like Michigan State's Drew
Stanton and Ohio State's Troy Smith ,
- have dominated the Wolverines
this season, so Young should be a
handful. And with starting defensive
end Larry Harrison likely out due to
legal problems, the result is potential
trouble for the Wolverines. Michigan
will probably stack seven or eight
defenders in the box - and even that
might not be enough.
Edge: Texas

Need a better
travel

bag

TEXAS RUSHING OFFENSE VS. MICHIGAN
RUSHING DEFENSE:
With the second-ranked rushing
attack in the nation, Texas features
one of the country's best one-two
punches. Case in point: In the Long-
horns' 26-13 victory over Texas
A&M to close the year, Benson
and Young combined for 272 yards
- 168 and 104 yards, respectively.
Quarterbacks with the ability to

SPECIAL TEAMS:
If a big play is made on special
teams, it will most likely come from
Steve Breaston. He was just getting
back in a groove, and now he's had
over a month to rest. Punter Adam
Finley has been solid for the most
part, and kicker Garrett Rivas fin-
ished the season 16-for-21 on field
goals. Michigan's kickoff coverage
has been stellar all season long.
The Longhorns are solid on special
teams, but not outstanding. Their punt
and kick return units are near the bottom
of the Big XII, and punter Richmond
McGee averages less than 40 yards a
punt. As for their kicking game, when
Texas scores, it scores in sevens; kicker
Dusty Mangum drilled 45 extra point
See MATCHUPS, page 15

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