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October 09, 2008 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2008-10-09

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Thursday, October 9, 2008 - 5A

Wildcats hope to
remain undefeated

By ANDY REID
Daily Sports Editor
Based on the number of Mich-
igan-Toledo tickets posted on
Facebook Marketplace, is it safe to
assume that many Wolverine fans
believe there are better ways to
spend this.Saturday afternoon than
at the Big House? If the Rockets'
first-ever trip to Ann Arbor doesn't
excite you, there's plenty of other
Big Ten action this weekend that
might catch your attention.
The conference title race is start-
ing to take shape, and three games
on this Saturday's slate could go a
long way in determining which Big
Ten team (or teams, if one sneaks
into the championship game) will
represent the Midwest in the BCS.
NO.23 MICHIGAN STATE AT
NORTHWESTERN
Who would have thought that at
this point in the season, a Big Ten
team could be undefeated and still
unranked? The Wildcats are get-
ting no love from the voters - Ball
State is ranked ahead of them, for
crying out loud - but they just keep
on winning. And if Northwestern
can slip past a tough Spartan squad,
only underachieving Purdue, Indi-
ana and Minnesota stand between
the Wildcats and a 9-0 record when
S Ohio State comes to Evanston on
Nov. 8.
I'm finding it hard to believe
that both the Wildcats and Spar-
tans are legitimate contenders for
the Big Ten championship, so I'm
" interested in seeing if one or both of
them is revealed as a pretender this
weekend.
NO.6 PENN STATE
AT WISCONSIN
Wisconsin's Bret Bielema has
finally been knocked back to real-
ity.After losing just four conference
games in two years and joining
Fielding Yost and Jim Tressel as
the only Big Ten coaches to ever

post 21-plus wins in their first two
seasons, Bielema is just starting to
learn how tough the conference
really is. Blowing a 19-point lead
against Michigan - ouch. Blow-
ing a late lead against Ohio State at
home - double ouch.
And just like that, the Badgers
went from conference- and possible
national-title hopefuls to a team
facing an 0-3 start in the Big Ten
if they lose to Penn State. And let's
be honest, with the way the Nittany
Lions are playing, they most likely
will.
I feel like this one has all the
makings of a blowout, especially
considering Wisconsin has to shake
two consecutive heartbreaking
losses. But Michigan fans should be
a little excited to get a look at Penn
State's "Spread HD" offense the
week before it shreds the Wolver-
ine secondary.
PURDUE AT NO.12 OHIO STATE
Love him or hate him (and I'm
sure most Michigan fans fall in the
latter category), Terrelle Pryor is a
lot of fun to watch. His progression
and maturation has been astound-
ingly fast, especially in the pass-
ing game - not just getting the job
done with his legs, but he's already
developed into a dangerous throw-
er, recording a 100-plus passer rat-
ing in five of his six games.
I've loved watching Pryor trans-
form from a recruiting-season phe-
nomenon into a legitimate college
football player, and this week will
provide another chance for him to
add to his growing stardom. The
Boilermakers rank dead last in the
Big Ten for both passing and rush-
ing defense, so watch for Pryor to
put up his biggest numbers yet this
season.
But even with a marquee player
like Pryor to watch, this game will
no doubt be a blowout.

Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez will try to keep Michigan's streak of consecutive bowl appearances alive by winning at least four of his last seven games.
Will the Michiganfootball
team mak a bowl. this year

T he Michigan football If the Wolverines win at least
team's six-game win streak seven games, they will make a
against Illinois? Snapped. bowl. If they win five or less, they
Its 17-year streak of holding won't.
opponents under 45 points at But what about a 6-6 season?
home? Snapped. There are a couple rules that make
Its 33-year it tougher for a .500 team to make
bowl streak? a bowl.
Well, we'll see. 1. When a bowl is selecting a
The Wol- team from a conference that has a
verines have tie-in to that bowl, it must pick a
reached 33 team with a winning record if one
straight bowls, is available.
and are just 2. When a bowl is selecting an
two short of DAN at-large team, it must pick a team
Nebraska's FELDMAN with a winning record if one is
record 35-year available.
run from 1969- Just five of 12 teams with a 6-6
2003. record made a bowl last year, and
But for Michigan (2-3) to eke out all of them had a conference tie-
a 34th straight appearance, it will in. The Big Ten's Iowa and North-
have to win four, maybe five, more western were left out with .500
games in a year of transition under records.
new coach Rich Rodriguez. But two more bowl games were
Michigan's play has been unpre- added this year, making it more
dictable. The favorite is 1-4 in the likely a 6-6 team gets an at-large
Wolverines' games this year. It's berth.
nearlyimpossibleto tell ifthis team And of the teams that could
will come together or collapse. finish .500, Michigan - with its
Here's a simple way to look at it: national prominence and traveling
assuming Michigan loses at No. 6 fan base - will be the second most
Penn State and No. 12 Ohio State, coveted behind Notre Dame.
it must win its other five games to But the Wolverines might not
finish 7-5: need to hope for an at-large bid.
That means winning at home As much as the conference is
against Toledo, Michigan State criticized nationally, the Big Ten
and Northwestern and on the road will likely fill two of the 10 BCS
at Purdue and Minnesota. This slots.
team hasn't shown it can play con- The winners of the six major
sistently enough to sweep those conferences - the Big Ten, SEC,
games, but winning four of five is Big 12, ACC, Pac 10 and Big East -
certainly reasonable. That leaves will get automatic bids. The SEC
them at 6-6. and the Big 12 will both get one at-

large bid, only because conferenc-
es aren't allowed to have more.
At least one of No. 9 Brigham
Young, No. 14 Utah and No. 15
Boise State will probably go unde-
feated and grab another BCS
spot.
So that leaves one BCS spot to
go the best of the No. 2 teams in
the Big Ten, ACC, Pac 10 and Big
East.. Right now, that's far and
away the 12th-ranked Buckeyes.
No. 21 Wake Forest is the next
best.
In addition to the BCS, the Big
Ten has six bowl tie-ins. If Michi-
gan finishes 6-6, and fewer than
eight Big Ten teams win seven
games, the Wolverines should get
an automatic bid to a bowl.
But it's possible that eight
teams - Penn State (6-0), Michi-
gan State (5-1), Ohio State (5-1),
Northwestern (5-0), Minnesota
(5-1), Illinois (3-2), Wisconsin (3-2)
and Iowa(3-3) - could all get seven
wins.
If that happens, or if seven of
them reach seven wins and only
one nabs a BCS spot, Michigan
won't have an automatic tie-in and
will have to search for an at-large
bowl spot.
There are 24 non-BCS bowls
this year. Most notably, the ACC
may struggle to fill all nine of its
tie-ins. The conference's ninth
spot is the EagleBank Bowl in
Washington, one of this year's two
new postseason games. According
to the Washington Times, the bowl
would select between Big Ten, Big
East and Conference USA teams if

FAN GUIDE
It's too early to tell how everything
will shake out, but a few conferences
might not fill their bowl tie-ins. Here's
an early look at where Michigan fans'
rooting interests should lie.
" FOR: Penn State, Ohio State, Georgia,
Alabama, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, USC,
Oregon, California, Virginia Tech, North
Carolina, Western Michigan, Ball State,
Tulsa, San Diego State and Arkansas
State.
* AGAINST:Iowa, Mississippi, Ten-
nessee, Stanford, UCLA, Oregon State,
Arizona State, Duke, Virginia, Maryland,
Miami, Central Michigan,.Colorado
State. New Mexico, Florida International,
Louisiana-Lafayette and Troy.
the ACC can't provide ateam, but it
has no formal agreement with any
of those conferences.
Navy (4-2), an independent,
has agreed to play in the game
assuming it becomes bowl eli-
gible. Michigan is 12-5-1 against
the Midshipmen but hasn't played
them since 1981.
The game, originally dubbed the
Congressional Bowl, will be this
year's first bowl game and will be
played at 11 a.m. on Dec. 20.
It might not be the most desir-
able destination, but it sure beats
having to start the streak over.
-Feldman can be reached
at danfeld@umich.edu.

Fellows emerges from
older brother's shadow

By NICK MATTAR
For the Daily
With its top three runners out
due to injury, Michigan needed
someone to step up at the Notre
Dame Invitational last weekend.
Luckily for the Wolverines,
redshirt junior Brandon Fellows
answered the call.
Fellows finished first among
Michigan runners and 22nd over-
all while the Wolverines took ninth
place out of 25 teams.
"He definitely ran his best race
of the season at Notre Dame," men's
cross country coach Ron Warhurst
said.
Last weekend was one of Fel-
lows's best races to date. But if
genetics are any indication, he has
many more ahead of him. Fellows's
brother, Donnie, ran for Purdue
from 1998-2002. In 2001, he was an
All-American cross country run-
ner and Big Ten Champion in the
10-kilometer run.
Throughout his childhood, Fel-
lows traveled from his home in
Mercer Island, Wash. to see many
of his brother's races, and enjoyed
watching all of the Big Ten schools.
When Fellows entered high school,
he decided to run cross country
and track.
As a senior, Fellows looked at
several schools, including a few in
the Big Ten.
"One day, my mom had a vision
that I was running at Michigan"
Fellows said. "So I checked it out."
Fellows then contacted War-
hurst about running for the Wol-

verines.
"When I learned that Donnie's
brother contacted me, my first
thought was, 'We got some genet-
ics here,"' Warhurst said.
Warhurst was very familiar
with the elder Fellows, who ran
several races against Michigan.
He remembers when Donnie had
several -close finishes against the
Wolverines' top runner at the time,
Mike Wisniewski.
But Warhurst has never made
comparisons between the two
brothers, and named Fellows a
captain this season because of
his leadership and respectability
among teammates.
"Brandon is a vocal leader and
he is a very bright student," War-
hurst said. Fellows is currently
enrolled in the Ross School of Busi-
ness in addition to running for the
Wolverines.
Fellows still sees his brother as a
role model and, attimes, a source of
extra motivation. Both ran similar
times in high school and have run
similar times in races during their
first few years in the Big Ten.
Out of college now for more than
six years, Donnie is a volunteer
coach for the Boilermakers and
continues to run. He participated
in the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials.
"I've always been in the shadow
of Donnie," Fellows said. "But to
see him still motivated and run-
ning by himself gives me some
motivation as well."
And that motivation has helped
the younger Fellows create a name
for himself at Michigan.

--U,00

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