the final leg of the
The SportsMonday Column
OFF THE TARGET
The men's and women's soccer teams
saw disappointing seasons come to
finding ends with a pair of losses.
LEADERS IN DISGUISE
Michigan hockey coaches Mel Pearson and
Billy Powers work in the shadow of Red Beren-
son, but they have a vital role in the program.
November 15, 2004
MICHGAN be2 dganawester2
MICHIGAN 42, Northwestern 20
atop Big Ten
It's always easy to look at Michigan and wonder what
could have, what whould have, what should have.
You know, like, "What if Mike Hart had started against
Notre Dame? He'd have run for 100 easily, and we'd have
won, and we'd be undefeated, and..."
But this year, that's not the right thing to do. Instead, take
a look around the conference.
There's Minnesota, which rolled
into Ann Arbor undefeated and
boasted a supposedly unstoppable
run offense. Bur the Gophers lost
the lead in the fourth quarter, and
have quietly lost four of five games
Then there's Purdue, which had SHARAD MATTU
everything set up for a conference
title run. Michigan, Wisconsin Mattu-fast,
and Ohio State were all coming to Mattu-furious
West Lafayette, and senior quar-
terback Kyle Orton had developed into a Heisman favorite.
But the Boilermakers lost to Wisconsin, then Michigan, and
then two other teams.
And there's this week's opponent, Ohio State. Appar-
ently, two straight years at or near the top of the conference
was enough for the Buckeyes, and they lost three games to,
open their conference slate. With the recent developments in
the Maurice Clarett saga, who knows how legitimate their
national championship two years ago really is.
The point is, it's not easy to contend year after year after
year the way Michigan has, does and will. If there was ever
a year for the Wolverines to drop a level, this was it. Michi-
gan said goodbye to its quarterback and running back, two
starting offensive and defensive linemen and many others.
At the beginning of the season, they were planning to
break in a new quarterback and running back, but within
a three-week span they were breaking in a new freshman
quarterback and running back.
Yet, Michigan is 6-0 with Chad Henne and Hart as its
starting backfield, and 8-0 when the duo plays the majority
of the game.
While Hart's emergence has been unexpected and invalu-
able, to see a freshman running back doing what he's doing
isn't exactly uncharted territory. As Braylon Edwards said
on Saturday, Hart's just hitting the hole and doing his thing
just like when he was in high school.
But what Henne is accomplishing as a freshman quarter-
back is pretty special, and numbers like his 62.7 completion
percentage and nearly two-to-one touchdown-to-intercep-
tion ratio don't tell begin to the story.
Early in the season, though he already had the arm,
Henne's limitations were clear. Just think back to that Notre
Dame game; signaling the play in to the quarterback is sup
posed to be as easy as tying shoes, but for some reason eved
that was difficult. And if that's going to be a problem, forget
tough tasks like reading the defense and calling audibles.
But now, 10 weeks later, Michigan's offense is drasti-
cally different thanks to Henne's progress. Early on, only
No. 1 seemed to be on his radar, but against Northwestern,
Edwards caught seven passes and Jason Avant and Steve
Breaston caught five each. It was the first time this season
three receivers had at least five receptions each.
See MATTU, Page 5B
TR EVOR CAMPBELL/Daily
Redshirt sophomore Steve Breaston, left, celebrates with junior Jason Avant after Avant's third-quarter touchdown reception. Breaston also scored touchdowns on a reception and a punt return.
*' routs Wildcats, clinches sare of title
By Chris Burke
Daily Sports Editor
As he entered the post-game press conference, Mike Hart
lost his balance as his cleats slid across the uncarpeted floor.
The freshman running back caught his balance, avoided a fall
Seems that, even off the field, Hart can't be brought down.
On a day when Michigan's offense was slow to get rolling,
Hart again carried the load, piling up 151 yards and three touch-
downs as the Wolverines manhandled Northwestern 42-20.
Michigan struggled to a 7-6 halftime cushion, but it scored
touchdowns on its first five second-half possessions to pull
away from the Wildcats.
"It takes 11 people to make it happen and I believe that, early
on, it wasn't all 11 guys on the field at the same time," said Mich-
igan wide receiver Braylon Edwards, who finished with seven
catches for 54 yards. "We had a couple of guys that weren't step-
ping up. But in the second half, we came out with a purpose.
From the start of the second half to the end of the second half,
we had all 11 guys on the same beat at the same time."
The day got even better for the Wolverines just hours after the
win was wrapped up, as Michigan State destroyed Wisconsin
49-14.That left No. 7 Michigan (7-0 Big Ten, 9-1 overall) as
the lone team undefeated in conference play, guaranteeing the
Wolverines no worse than a share of the conference title.
Michigan has not completed an undefeated Big Ten campaign
since 1997's national championship year. A victory in Colum-
bus against arch-rival Ohio State next week would give the Wol-
verines an 8-0 conference record, the outright Big Ten title and
likely send Michigan to Pasadena for the second straight year.
But the Buckeyes are no doubt itching to ruin those possi-
bilities for the Wolverines. That means Saturday's slow start
is a cause for concern on Michigan's end - if for no other
reason than that it has become a disturbing trend for the
Wolverines. Over the last four games, Michigan has scored
a mere 37 first-half points compared to 96 points in the sec-
ond half and overtime.
Michigan's offensive line has been at the heart of the early-
game problems, allowing eight first-half sacks over that span,
but just two after halftime. On Saturday, Northwestern held
Michigan to 126 total yards of offensein the first half thanks
to three sacks.
"I think the linemen weren't happy (at halftime on Saturday),"
said Michigan quarterback Chad Henne of Northwestern's three
first-half sacks. "They were twisting stunts that we should have
been protecting and we didn't pick them up very well."
Outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley - who recorded five
tackles and a sack against Northwestern - made it clear that
the Wolverines know their lackluster start against the Wildcats
won't cut it against upset-minded Ohio State.
"We know ... how big it is," Woodley said. "(Offensive line-
man David) Baas said we can't come out next week playing like
we did in the first half this week. We have to play next week like
we did in the second half today."
Michigan limped to that 7-6 halftime lead courtesy of a
34-yard touchdown run by Hart - Michigan's longest scor-
ing run of the season. He then added his second score four
minutes into the second half, capping off a drive that was
highlighted by a 20-yard reverse run by sophomore wide
receiver Steve Breaston.
It was one of several big plays that Breaston turned in on the
day. In what was without question his best performance of the
season, Breaston totaled 272 all-purpose yards and scored two
touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
"You saw an explosiveness you have not seen this year from
Steve," Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said. "You could see and
feel that something was about to happen."
Breaston's first score - a 10-yard pass from quarterback
Chad Henne - put Michigan ahead 35-13 with 9:49 left in the
fourth quarter. Then he put the game out of reach with 9:14 to
go, breaking a punt return 67 yards down the right sideline to
give the Wolverines a 42-13 advantage.
"He's a pretty good player," said Northwestern coach Randy
See WILDCATS, Page 5B
Spartans rally to
" end Blue's season
By James V. Dowd
Daily Sports Writer
One year ago last weekend, Michi-
gan State field hockey coach Michele
Madison sat in theA1
press conference reeling for answers
after Michigan stole a 2-1 victory in East
Lansing. Replaying controversial goals in
her head and questioning the officiating,
Madison struggled with the reality that
her team's season had come to an abrupt
Sunday's regional championship game
brought a reversal of roles. This time it
was Michigan coach Marcia Pankratz
left to contemplate a lost trip to the final
AL F-------------- ------ft- I')-
fired the ball across the circle and Adri-
enne Hortillosa found herself in just the
right spot. Hortillosa dove forward and
managed to redirect the ball past helpless
Spartan goalkeeper Christina Kirkaldy.
But Spartan senior Annebet Beerman
spoiled the party just three minutes later.
After Michigan State began to threaten,
Beerman held the ball at the top of the
circle. Before Michigan goalkeeper Beth
Riley had a chance to react, Beerman sent
it to Riley's left, tying the game at one.
Hortillosa gave the Wolverines a one-
goal lead just before the half, scoring off
of a penalty corner. Michigan seemed in
complete control going into the break up
2-1, but Michigan State was far from giv-
"It's a long game," Madison said. "We
MENS CROSS COUNTRY
first victory at
By Jack Herman
Daily Sports Writer
YPSILANTI - Two-time cross country All-American. Six time track All-
American. Two-time 800-meter NCAA indoor track champion. Five-time Big
Ten champion. Numerous school and NCAA records.
In his four years at Michigan, senior cross country runner Nate Brannen had
seemingly done it all. Yet there was one thing that eluded Brannen in his years and
21 cross country races at Michigan - actually winning a cross country race.
Brannen finally put that behind him Saturday when he won the NCAA
Great Lakes Regional Championship, which was held at Eagle Crest Golf
Resort in Ypsilanti. Brannen's first-place finish led the 23rd-ranked Wolverines
to a fourth-place finish overall.
"It feels good to win," Brannen said. "It's especially nice to do it in my final
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