12 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, September 14, 2004
Teams tune up before beginning conference schedule
By Scott Boll
and Dan Ording
For the Daily
As the Big Ten season rapidly approaches, there is one more
Saturday of quality matchups outside of Michigan's confer-
ence. There are two SEC games that could potentially decide
the winners of both its divisions. Auburn will take on
reigning champion LSU for the upper
hand in the SEC West, and Florida
and Tennessee once again match up
in a classic rivalry that usually
goes down to the final minute.
In other regions, West Vir-
ginia hopes to end its four-
game losing streak against
Maryland, while Oregon
looks to upset Oklahoma1
from last year, LSU mirrors last year's Auburn squad as the
underachievers of the SEC. Quarterback controversies and an
early scare from Oregon State has left the Bayou quiet as many
have already written LSU's national title hopes. Auburn, on
the other hand, has come out of the blocks strong; a definite
180 degree-turn from its weak start last year. While attention
was elsewhere, Auburn has quietly rolled
in its first two games behind argu-
ably the nation's top backfield. gCOSS
Dynamic duo "Cadillac"
Carnell Williams and
Ronnie Brown have com-
bined for over 450 yards
runners in the SEC, but so far has fallen short of his preseason
Once all the pregame hoopla is over, the contest will be
decided in the trenches. It should all come down to whether
or not LSU can stop Auburn's running attack. If the visiting
Tigers can keep Auburn under 200 yards, then they should
win. If LSU can jump out of the gates early and force Auburn
to play from behind and rely on their sub-par passing game,
they will win. If neither happens, then Auburn should ride
the "Cadillac" to victory, leaving the door open for a different
unqualified team to share a national championship with a far
superior team this year. (Sorry LSU, not two years in a row).
Auburn 31, LSU 21
No. 11 FLORIDA (1-0) AT. No. 13 TENNESSEE (1-0), 8 P.M.,
In the unofficial "Hey, didn't we use to be national title con-
tenders?" Bowl, the Florida Gators travel up to the Volunteer
State to take on Tennessee. Although both are already des-
tined for another mediocre season of 9-3, they'll still show up
and play and pretend they can make it to a BCS bowl. Florida
brings the more exciting team to the table, led by sophomore
signal caller Chris Leak. The excitement only applies to its
offense, though, as Florida coach Ron Zook has supposedly
taken Steve Spurrier's defensive philosophy of "let them score,
who needs defense anyway" to a new level. Any team that lets
Eastern Michigan get across the 50-yard line once - let alone
allow them to put up double digits - probably will struggle
against a team not in the MAC cellar.
The only problem is, Tennessee has also been stealing
others' philosophies. Stolen from the "Offensive tactics
that would make watching paint dry seem fun" book,
Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer has apparently made it
his mission to make Florida's defense look good. But his
play-calling mistakes might be challenged though by
a team that does have legitimate talent. Although they
don't have a standout player getting a lot of hype, the
Vols are very similar to the 2002 New England Patriots
squad that always won as a unit. The Volunteer defense is
solid, arguably the best squad in the SEC apart from Geor-
gia, but the SEC has never been a staple for defensive domi-
nance, especially when they face the "fun 'n' gun" squad from
Gainesville. The key factor could be Tennessee's home-field
advantage, as the Vol fans go "Rocky Top" crazy and provide
a great 1211 man. Expect a close game, decided by less than a
Tennessee 27, Florida 24
No. 21 MARYLAND (2-0) AT No. 7 WEST VIRGINIA (2-0),
West Virginia, the preseason favorite in the Big East, faces
the toughest test of the early season on Saturday against No.
21 Maryland. These teams are quite familiar with each other,
having matched up twice last season, including once in the
Gator Bowl. West Virginia looks to rebound after losing both
games in 2003 and four straight against the Terps.
The Mountaineers are coming off two blowout victories
over East Carolina and Central Florida. Now West Virginia
must deal with the strong possibility that star running back
Kay-Jay Harris could miss the next game with a pulled ham-
string. Harris is averaging an obscene 12.7 yards per carry
with 344 yards and four touchdowns.
If Harris is out, quarterback Rasheed Marshall and backup
running back Jason Colson will have to step up to fill the void.
Marshall accounted for five touchdowns and Colson rushed
Continued from page 11
No. 21 WIsCONSIN (2-0) AT ARIZONA (1-1) --4 P.M.
Wisconsin looks to avoid a recent trend that has seen Big
Ten teams lose on the road to Pac-10 teams. New coach Mike
Stoops, who gained a reputation as a defensive genius under
his brother Bob at Oklahoma, leads Arizona into its first
true test of the year. It will take time, however, for the new
coach to get his bearings, proven last week by an embarrass-
ing 23-6 loss at Utah. The Wildcats will need to get more
production out of sophomore quarterback Kris Heavner.
The Badgers counter with a sophomore quarterback of their
own in John Stocco. However, Wisconsin could struggle on
the ground as senior Anthony Davis will not play due to an
eye injury. In order to win, coach Barry Alvarez must come
up with a scheme that will exploit Mike Stoops aggressive
defense. Expect this one to be nip and tuck all the way with
a crucial turnover or penalty deciding the outcome.
Arizona 24, Wisconsin 20
NOTRE DAME (1-1) AT MICHIGAN STATE (1-1) - 7:00 P.M.,
In a game of much interest to all in Ann Arbor, Notre
Dame looks to build on a huge upset of the Wolverines and
sweep the Great Lakes State. Michigan State managed an
unimpressive victory over Central Michigan, winning with
quarterback-by-committee (freshmen Stephen Reaves and
junior Drew Stanton). The Spartans survived despite allow-
ing 236 rushing yards to Central Michigan. Michigan State
will need to make some drastic changes to contain break-
out Notre Dame running back Darius Walker. The fresh-
man tore into the Michigan defense on Saturday, scoring
two touchdowns and amassing 115 yards on 31 carries. If
quarterback Brady Quinn does a better job of managing the
game, Notre Dame will not need to over achieve as much as
it did against the Wolverines for a victory. The sophomore
is well on his way to matching his 15 interceptions last year
after throwing three picks against Michigan in South Bend.
Look for Tyrone Willingham to show some more uncharac-
teristic jubilation as Notre Dame should stomp all over the
for 108 yards against Central Florida. However, Maryland and
Central Florida are not exactly on the same talent level.
The Terrapins are looking to continue their perfect noncon-
ference season after two wins against Temple and Northern
Illinois. Maryland just barely squeaked past the Huskies 23-20
after losing to them last year.
The Terps, who graduated their starting running back and
quarterback, have found perfectly able replacements. Half-
backs Sammy Maldonado, a transfer from Ohio State, and
Josh Allen have combined to help Maryland average 200
yards per game on the ground. Quarterback Joel Statham has
thrown for 437 yards with two touchdowns and just one inter-
ception so far.
Second-team All-ACC linebacker D'Qwell Jackson and
defensive end Shawne Merriman lead Maryland's defensive
effort. Jackson leads the team in both tackles and intercep-
tions, while Merriman is pacing the team with four sacks.
Though West Virginia is at home this weekend, the Terps
and Coach Ralph Friedgen have the psychological edge. With-
out Harris, Marshall will not have another playmaker to take
the pressure off the passing game. Look for the Terps, with
their balanced offense and quick defense, to win their fifth in
a row against the Mountaineers.
Maryland 28, West Virginia 21.
OREGON (0-1) AT No. 2 OKLAHOMA (2-0), 3:30 P.M., ABC
Oklahoma, fresh off a 63-13 spanking of Houston, faces
another 2003 Michigan opponent this week - Oregon. The
Sooners have not yet been tested this season, but now they
finally play a BCS opponent. Though Oregon suffered a
surprising loss to perennial Big Ten doormat Indiana at
home last week, coach Mike Bellotti will have his team
primed for an upset.
Jason White, who has been in Norman for what seems like
an eternity, leads Oklahoma. The sixth-year senior has already
staked a claim for a second Heisman trophy by throwing for
495 yards and five touchdowns. All-American wide receiver
Mark Clayton also decided to stick around as White's primary
target, and has 12 catches already this year.
In addition to the aerial assault, the Sooners also boast a
prolific running attack. Blue-chip recruit Adrian Peterson has
stepped into one of the top programs in the nation and aver-
aged 108.5 yards per game. Kejuan Jones has chipped in with
92 yards per game as the backup.
Antonio Perkins, the Sooners' stud returner/cornerback,
won a spot on all highlight reels last week with his ankle-
breaking punt return touchdown against Houston. That was
his eighth career punt return, tying Wes Welker's NCAA
record. Linebacker Lance Mitchell has returned from an inju-
ry in 2003 to take over current Detroit Lion Teddy Lehman's
role as defensive leader for the Sooners.
Oregon must figure out how to compete in Norman after
turning the ball over seven times against Indiana. The defense
certainly was not the problem - it only surrendered 212 total
yards, including only 64 through the air, and three yards per
carry. Running back Kenny Washington also needs to use his
speed to keep Oklahoma defenders from keying on the wide-
open Oregon passing attack. If the offense, especially quarter-
back Kellen Clemens, who threw three interceptions, can take
care of the ball, the Ducks' defense will keep the score close.
The Ducks are not of the same caliber of talent as Oklaho-
ma. Therefore, a mistake-free game is a must. This game will
be close early, but Jason White simply has too many weapons
at his disposal.
Oklahoma 42, Oregon 14
Notre Dame 30, Michigan State 10
Continued from page 11
"Obviously, our ineffectiveness run-
ning the football (against Notre Dame)
put us in a lot of down-and-distance
situations," Carr said. "We threw the
football too many times. We don't want
to throw the ball 45 times a game, but
when you rush for (56) yards on 30 car-
ries, that's what happens."
Lest you've forgotten amidst all the
Notre Dame's Brady Quinn looks to repeat his recent
success against Michigan State this weekend.
And there's Bo again. If he were
writing this column, he'd be telling
everyone to stop acting like a loss to
Notre Dame is the end of the world.
He'd tell you the season's young and
Michigan's team is pretty young and
things take a while to come together.
And he'd probably tell you to get
ready to go to Pasadena in January.
We're not in the "Point-a-minute"
days of Fritz Crisler anymore when
Michigan just steamrolled everyone
So here's what going to happen:
Michigan's going to be fine.
This program isn't one of the best
and most storied in the country by
The Wolverines are going to iron out
some of the kinks - they'll figure out
that running game, just you watch, and
they'll get everything else settled, too
by the time the conference season rolls
A 12-0 season with a national title
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