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November 09, 2007 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2007-11-09

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8 - Friday, November 9, 2007

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Blue has all but
home advantage

Win or lose, Big
Ten title in reach


Daily Sports Editors
Ohio State is already looming.
The talk about another matchup for
a Big Ten Championship between
the two rivals has begun.
But don't let Wisconsin hear any
of that banter. The Badgers are wait-
ing for the Wolverines in a potential
trip-up game before the big show on
Nov. 17.
. Wisconsin and Michigan both
come in a little banged up, and some
of the Wolverine faithful wouldn't
mind Michigan coach Lloyd Carr
resting some of his ailingstars.
Still, a Big Ten game is important,
or at least that's what the Wolverine
players would wantyou to believe.

State, and he estimated that he
was at just 80 percent coming into
the game. If his health improves
as expected, he should be at full
strength against the Badgers, which
is a big positive for Michigan. Fresh-
man Ryan Mallett has struggled
in recent spot duty, fumbling and
throwinginterceptions whenHenne
has left games because of injury.
Even if Mallett plays, though, the
resurgence of Mario Manningham
combined with the steady effective-
ness of Adrian Arrington and Greg
Mathews makes this a tough match-
up for any defense.
Cornerback Jack Ikegwuono is
still a star in the Badger secondary,
which has played well this season.
But his counterpart on the other
side, cornerback Allen Langford,
was injured against Ohio State

Mike Hart and Chad Henne expect to play tomorrow despite lingering injuries.

Michigan rush offense vs. Wis- last week and wo
consinrush defense day. Missing a star
Senior running back Mike Hart against a multi-fac
says he'll be nearly 100 percent for Michigan's doesn't
this game, and that is good news for for the third-best1
Wolverine fans who saw him rush the Big Ten.
for 110 yards in barely more than a
half against Michigan State. Even Edge: Michigan
if he's not ready to carry the load,
backups Brandon Minor and Car- Michigan rush d
los Brown have proven themselves consin rush offens
capable, as long as they can get into The Badgers'
the flow of the game. and ends with rur
The Wisconsin rush defense was Hill. Unfortunately
one of the best in the Big Ten last against the Bucke
season, and some expected it to be a bruised left leg.
even better this year with many for Saturday is unl
contributors returning. But it has Wisconsin running
fallen far short of expectations, big hit if Hill can't g
ranking eighth in the conference by freshman Zach Bri
giving up nearly 150 yards per game aged just more than
on the ground. It allowed Ohio State carry against Ohio
running back Chris Wells to rush But the Wolver
for 169 yards and three touchdowns last week against a
last week. And with defensive tackle attack, allowing al
Jason Chapman out for the season, ing yards in the sei
the unit might get even worse. Much of that was ga

n't play Satur-
ting cornerback
eted attack like
bode well, even
pass defense in
defense vs.Wis-
offense starts
nning back P.J.
, he didn't play
yes because of
His availability
known, and the
g game takes a
o. His backup is
own, who man-
three yards per
State last week.
rines struggled
power rushing
most 190 rush-
cond half alone.
ined on one run,
e running back
running style
Hill's, and Caul-
dichigan defense
cond half.

Michigan pass defense vs. Wis- Mesko to win tf
consinpass offense tion, especially
The Wolverine secondary must sphere of Camp
have loved to see this stretch of the The battles o
schedule finally arrive. Gone are little more inter
the four wide-receiver sets and the haff has gone 1
empty backfields, and in are the I- gers while K.C
formations. Just like Michigan State a perfect 8-for
last weekend, Wisconsin will look had anyone r
to move the ball on the ground, and return game, e'
the Michigan secondary will have to has shown spu
guard against play-action. Working returning punt
in the Wolverines' favor is the Bad-
gers' lack of depth and talent at wide Edge: Push
receiver. Star wideout Luke Swan
was lost for the season a couple of Intangibles
weeks ago, and quarterback Tyler It's hard tos
Donovan has rarely tested the aer- come out witht
ial attack this year, and if he does, to win this tou
Donovan's looking for his tight end complete sche
Travis Beckum who has more than Championship
700 yards receiving this season. verines don't h

he battle of field posi-
y in raucous atmo-
f the kickers willbe a
resting. Taylor Mehl-
5-for-17 for the Bad-
Lopata has kicked
-8. Neither team has
eally emerge in the
ven though Mathews
irts of explosiveness
s for Michigan.

Daily Sports Editor
Since losing its first two games
of the season, Michigan has made
clear that even though a National
Championship may be unattain-
able, the team still has big goals.
Such as winning the Big Ten.
To do so the Wolverines have
said they must treat each game as
if it's for the title.
"It's just a Big Ten game," wide
receiver Greg Mathews said Mon-
day about tomorrow's game at
Wisconsin. "And if you want to
win a Big Ten Championship, you
have to win your Big Ten games."
Actually, Mathews shouldn't
talk so fast. Because the funny
thing is the Wolverines don't have
to win this one.
Along with Ohio State, Michi-
gan has a two-game lead on the
rest of the conference. That means
even with a loss against the Bad-
gers (3-3 Big Ten, 7-3 overall), the
Wolverines can win the a share of
the title - and a trip to the Rose
Bowl - when they play the Buck-
eyes next week.
"I guess it's strange," said run-
ning back Mike Hart said of know-
ing the team will play Ohio State
for the title. "You know that's how
we always expect it and how we
always want it, that's how it is a lot
of the time, a lot of the years we've
played football. That's why Michi-
gan-Ohio State is so special.
"But this game against Wiscon-
sin we want to get, too. We care a
lot about this game, we're going
into this game, we need to win it,
we wantto win it."
Given the circumstances, need
might be a bit strong. But to be fair,
Michigan has a lot to play for.
For starters, if Michigan (6-0,
8-2) loses this week, it must beat
Ohio State to earn a BCS spot.
With a win against the Badgers,
the Wolverines would still have a
shot at a BCS game, however slim,
even with a loss to the Buckeyes.
And pride plays its part, too.
Two years ago, the Wolverines

lost, 23-20, at Camp Randall Sta-
dium when Badger quarterback
John Stocco snuck into the end
zone with less than a minute left.
Although the Wolverines topped
Wisconsin during Revenge Tour
2006, surely they would like to
do it in front of the Badgers' own
That will mean stopping quar-
terback Tyler Donovan, who in
his first year at the helm has been
one of the Big Ten's most efficient
passers. And containing tight end
Travis Beckum, who Michigan
coach Lloyd Carr believes to be
one of - if not the most - talented
player at his position in the coun-
try. And for the second year in a
row, bottling up running back P.J.
Hill, who plays a straight-ahead,
power-running game, much like
the one Michigan State used to
beat up the Michigan defense in
the second half this weekend.
That is if he plays. Although
Carr said he will game plan for
Hill, a bruised left thigh kept the
running back out of last week's 38-
17 loss to Ohio State.
Hill is just one of the many Bad-
gers on the injured list. Just this
Monday, Wisconsin coach Bret
Bielema announced two more
starters - cornerback Allen Lang-
ford and defensive tackle Jason
Chapman - have also sustained
injuries that will force them to
miss the rest of the year.
Michigan has some injury prob-
lems of its own. Hart and quarter-
back Chad Henne battled injury
last week to play in the Wolverines
28-24 win. Some have speculated
the two will rest this week to gear
up for Ohio State.
Just don't suggest that to them.
"Itfeelsreallygood,"said Henne
of his shoulder injury, adding he
will "definitely" play. "I got treat-
ment (Monday), and everything
has definitely gotten a lot tighter,
and it feels a lot better."
Said Hart: "These are the last
two games of my career at Michi-
gan. And a bowl game. I'm not
missing anything."

say if
the in
gh rot
me o
ave t+
and 1

Edge: Michigan

Randall. Still,
remember cot
two years ago

Edge: Michigan
Michigan pass offense vs. Wis-
consin pass defense
Chad Henne garnered Big Ten
Player of the Week honors for his
performance against Michigan

but Michigan Stat:
Jehuu Caulcrick's
strongly resemblesI
crick pounded the M
mercilessly in the se

Specialteams Ten opener. Thatn
If this game were in the Big be enough motivatio
House, Michigan would dominate sin has more ridingc
this category. However, punter The Badgers have s
Zoltan Mesko has struggled in big the road, and win ag
road games. He didn't have a very always helps to easet
good performance in Happy Val-
ley a year ago and had just one good Edge: Wisconsin
boot last weekend against Michigan
State. The Wolverines will need Score: Michigan24

Michigan will
tensity it needs
ad game. In the
A the Big Ten
ure, the Wol-
o win in Camp
into Madison
osing their Big
might prove to
n, but Wiscon-
on a home win.
tumbled down
ainst Michigan
the pain.

Edge: Wisconsin (if Hill plays)

Looking for men's soccer coverage? Freshmabtf nguards
How about staff picks andFeshma gas
ProcrasinaionStatin" could dtaepace

Wait may end for
Ciraulo tonight


micnigandaily.com/sports. ByDANFELDMAN
Daily Sports Writer

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Michigan point guards Jer-
ret Smith and Kelvin Grady have
faced plenty of questions about
their respective learning curves
as Michigan coach John Beilein
implements his system.
They're on different paths now.
Jerret Smith's didn't run
through enough classrooms.
Grady's has accelerated.
Since Smith will be out tonight
against Radford with an ankle
injury - or if he's healthy enough
to play, he will serve a one-game
suspension for missing class -
Grady will probably start.
students can print out a voucher
for a free ticket at www.mgoblue.
com/studentvoucher, could be the
debut of the much-anticipated all-
freshman backcourt of Grady and
Manny Harris.
Beilein said the team already
knows who will be starting today
but didn't reveal the lineup to
media members. Grady and Har-
ris played with Ron Coleman,
DeShawn Sims and Zach Gibson
- the frontcourt starters against
Ferris State - in the team's final

five-on-five drill at yesterday's
Grady, who admitted a couple
of weeks ago to being behind the
pack in learning Beilein's offense,
said he's definitely caught up.
He usually spends a couple of
hours each night writing down-
and going over plays with Harris,
his roommate.
The pair, along with Sims,
called Beilein asking for DVDs of
the offense to help accelerate their
Beilein said Grady and Sims
have really clicked since being
together during the summer.
Grady and Harris, who is back
to 100 percent after being injured
in a 15-point, nine-rebound effort
in the exhibition game against
Ferris State, are two of the team's
fastest players. Their get-up-
and-down-the-court style is sure
to keep fans at the edge of their
But, as Beilein pointed out,
they're still freshmen.
"There are some things we're
not prepared to do," Beilein said.
"We'll have to make adjustments
on the fly."
If Grady and Harris are start-
ing, on the fly is right.

Daily Sports Editor
Sophomore Anthony Ciraulo has
spent much of his college hockey
career waiting.
First, there was the two years
toiling in the junior-level North
American Hockey League for a spot
on the roster. A spot that only came
last season after a highly touted
recruit signed a pro contract just
weeks before the season began.
Once Ciraulo made it on the
Michigan roster, he had to wait
longer. The 21-year old freshman
didn't see game action until Dec. 1,
10 games into the season.
When Ciraulo got a permanent
spot in the lineup Dec. 10, he played
a solid supporting role in Michi-
gan's final 23 games. The 5-foot-6
center impressed his coaches and
teammates with his quick play and
effective forecheck, though he tal-
lied just two points for the season.
After junior Danny Fardig broke
his knuckle blocking a shot last
Friday against Nebraska-Omaha,
Ciraulo's experience, though lim-
ited, made him the logical replace-
ment as the fourth-line center.
So if Fardig can't play tonight
and Ciraulo gets into the lineup for

the CCHA matchup against Alaska
at Yost Ice Arena, Ciraulo's eight-
game absence from the lineup
won't have been all that long in the
grander scheme.
"When (Ciraulo) came to Michi-
gan, he knew he wouldn't be in the
starting lineup until he proved to
everyone that he could take some-
one's job and compete at this level,"
Michigan coach Red Berenson said.
"And it took him half a year to do
that last year."
Ciraulo was a bit sluggish in
practice early in the week, Beren-
son said. But he has picked up the
intensity each day, making the
coach more comfortable to put him
into the lineup this weekend.
"Every practice has to be like a
game for me so I'm ready to go when
my time comes," Ciraulo said.
This season has been harder
for the Clinton Township native
because he knew it would be dif-
ficult to break into a lineup with
depth at forward.
"It's really tough when you're
not playing," sophomore BrianLeb-
ler said. "Your confidence isn't very
high and your school work seems
like it's that much harder. Every-
thing is just slower."
Lebler is Ciraulo's roommate,
so he knows first hand how hard
watching has been for Ciraulo this
season. Still, Ciraulo hasn't got-
ten down and works hard in every
practice, Lebler said.
If Ciraulo does make it into the
lineup this weekend, he will likely
see some time on the penalty kill.
Ciraulo's quickness and intel-
ligence make him well suited to
counterthe opposingteams power
But there are no guarantees for
Fardig wants to play this week-
end, despite the cast on his right
hand, and if he does, Ciraulo's wait
will stretch on longer, perhaps for
the entire season. Still,thatdoesn't
meanhe's meaningless tothe team.
Ciraulo knows his role is to work
hard in practice - to contribute
even if no one is watching.
"I just try my hardest on every
shift and every little thing," Cirau-
lo said. "Trying to make our top
guys better, and, of course, playing
with the guys we have, making me




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