8A - Friday, September 25, 2009
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Bower and Co. ready for Big Ten
Wood and Blais
thriving on and off
the soccer pitch
By ZAK PYZIK Blais is credited for starting.
For the Daily "Finally, he's just in his sliding
shorts and he's running the ball
To their teammates, they're out," Klein said jokingly.
referred to as Woody and Bricks. Wood brings a unique persona
To the adversary, they're a threat- to the practice environment. He
ening duo capable of being soccer's is typically known for listening to
finest. techno music before each game
Together, Michigan men's soc- to pump himself up, according to
cer defenseman Alex Wood and freshman midfielder Hamoody
goalie Chris "Bricks" Blais - who Saad.
gets the nickname for his brick- "Woody, he doesn't start, but
wall guise in the box - have bal- he comes off the bench with a lot
anced a competitive atmosphere of motivation," Saad, Wood's road
with a fun and lively environment. roommate, said.
"Chris is the biggest motiva- Wood and Blais have discovered
tor," junior forward Justin Meram a way to work as two role models
said. "I look to him as a captain of cooperatively, something that will
our squad. He lifts our spirits up come in handy as the Wolverines
and gets us pumped and ready for (5-1) embark on a journey to Uni-
every victory. I'm always really versity Park to take on a fierce
comfortable playing when Chris is Penn State (4-3-1) squad.
on the field." Traveling to State College will
Blais has displayed tremendous be difficult - Michigan will have
athleticism this season. Having to take a seven-hour bus ride this
not allowed a second half-goal in weekend. But the Nittany Lions
five games, his play in the net has are coming off a heartbreaking
been a catalyst to the Wolverines' 1-1 tie they had two days ago. This
success. means the Wolverines may have
But even when the team is not the momentum heading into the
under the lights, Blais develops game, since Penn State fans wit-
unique ways to foster team unity. nessed such a disappointing loss.
According to freshman mid- "On the field, Chris and I give
fielder Alex Klein, Blais slowly each other our own space and we
took off his clothes during team know that each will pull our own
fitness tests at the beginning of the weight and come together for the
season - it's now a tradition that win," Wood said.
Michigan looks to and Missouri.
"Those are all equitable of a Big
start conference Ten-level team," Rosen said. "Some
years you might go into Big Ten play
play s rong nthe with one or two of those matches,
but this year we have six or seven,
Hoosier state and that'lle advantageous forus"
The Wolverines have finished
By MARK BURNS as high as fifth in the conference
Daily Sports Writer during Bower's career, but more is
expected of her and her teammates
The look in her eyes and the tone who have underperformed after
of her voice suggested that this starting out so strong in non-con-
year might be different for Megan ference play.
Bower and the No. 8 Michigan vol- "Our expectations are always
leyball team. highregardless of the team," Bower
"We talk about the Big Ten (title) said. "This year, we had a lot of vet-
all the time," Bower said. "It's defi- erans coming back. ... There's defi-
nitely a goal of ours to win and to nitely higher expectations this year
just compete. Being a senior, I think and there's a harder work ethic -
it means alittle bit more, just know- but that's expected day-in and day-
ing it's your last one. ... But I think out - no excuses."
we definitely have an expectation That harder work ethic paid
of winningthe Big Ten this year." dividends on Aug. 28 when Michi-
Over the last three seasons, the gan shocked the volleyball world
Wolverines are 51-1 in non-confer- by knocking off the then-No. 3
ence play but just 30-30 against Big Nebraska in straight sets. The win
Ten foes. highlighted how farthe Wolverines
Granted, Michigan plays in one had come after last year's three-set
of the toughest conferences in the debacle against the Cornhuskers in
country - Penn State has won the Sweet 16.
back-to-back national champion- But for now, Michigan has its
ships - but the team must improve eyes set solely on Indiana - who
its conference play to become an the Wolverines play tonight in the
elite program. Hoosier state for its first confer-
And that could possibly happen ence match - even if the thought
this year, according to Michigan of a Big Ten title is lingering in the
coach Mark Rosen. back of everyone's mind.
He feels Michigan (12-1) is bet- "Expectations can become a
ter prepared for Big Ten play than pretty big burden to carry some-
in previous years. The Wolverines times," Rosen said. "We have to
played a veryadifficult preseason focus on everym atchindividu-
schedule, with matches against ally. We have 20 matches left, and
then-No. 3 Nebraska, Oregon State, we just need to take them one at a
Tennessee, Kansas State, Xavier time."
Senior Megan Bower has gone .500 in conference play at Michigan. Bower and the
Wolverines are focused on winning the program's first conference title since 1981.
Around the Nation: Harris and Best highlight the field
By ALEX PROSPERI and
Daily Sports Writers
NO. 9 MIAMI AT
NO.11 VIRGINIA TECH
Less than three weeks ago,
Jacory Harris was just the next
Miami quarterback trying to bring
a depleted program back to star-
dom. Now, Harris is ranked fourth
on ESPN's Heisman Watch, and a
win in Blacksburg against a Virgin-
ia Tech defense that gives up fewer
than 20 points per game will move
him even higher.
The Hurricanes and Hokies will
take the field as ranked opponents
for the first time since 2005, and the
game is significant for both sides.
After dropping its opener to
then-No. 5 Alabama, Virginia Tech
has taken care of Marshall and No.
19 Nebraska. The Hokies face just
one ranked team (No.22 North Car-
olina) the rest of the way, so if they
take care of business at home, a BCS
bowl game is certainly in reach.
Miami's schedule has the Hurri-
canes playing No. 18 Florida State,
No.14 Georgia Tech, No.11Virginia
Tech and No. 10 Oklahoma in their
first four games. But Harris and Co.
took care of business in Tallahas-
see and at home against the Yellow
Jackets. If Miami - which is ranked
in the top 10 for the first time since
2005 - beats the Hokies, you can
bet college football analysts will be
salivating over the Hurricanes -
NO.6 CALIFORNIA AT OREGON
Behind the legs of running back
Jahvid Best, the Golden Bears
look bound for The Rose Bowl and
maybe even for the BCS national
Best rushed for 131 yards and a
school-record five touchdowns on
7.8 yards per carry lastweek against
Minnesota. He's behind just Florida
quarterback Tim Tebow in ESPN's
Heisman Watch, and with Oregon
this week and Southern Cal next
week, Best has a prime opportunity
to solidify his place.
Cal is putting up nearly 50 points
a game while giving up less than 14.
Oregon has been outscored through
three games after starting the sea-
son at No.16.
This is the Ducks' last statement
game for more than a month, and
they certainly need it. As for Best,
another dominating performance
could push him past Tebow.
ARKANSAS AT NO.3 ALABAMA
If not for freshman quarterback
Tate Forcier's promising future,
Michigan fans would have been
screaming at their TVs last Sat-
urday. Alabama quarterback and
former Michigan gunslinger Ryan
Mallett threw for 408 yards and
five touchdowns in a 52-41 loss
Mallett and the nation's second-
best offense might have trouble in
Tuscaloosa, as Alabama has given
up just 45 points in three games.
On the other side of the ball,
don't be surprised if Alabama hits
the SO-point mark. The Crimson
Tide average 42.3 points per game
and Arkansas is allowing 31 this
Mallett will either burst into the
national spotlight as an elite col-
lege quarterback, or the Alabama
defense will give Mallett a good
taste of the Bryant-Denny Stadium
zero wins in20
bounce back in
back games si
roll's first year
ready to take'
game to be clo
)N STATE AT NO.12
THERN CAL _
a close 16-13 game to
team that recorded
008 last Saturday, the
rojans are looking to
a big way.
nce coach Pete Car-
in Los Angeles, and
n quarterback Matt
ning after a bruised
him on the sidelines
ington, Carroll is
out some frustration
ct this West Coast
se after halftime.
Sophomore Jacory Harris and Miami travel to Virginia Tech in the weekend's
highest-profile game. Harris is ranked fourth on ESPN's Heisman Watch.
- i - F -
The Daily football writers do their
best to predict what happens
in the 2009 football season.
No. 23 Michigan (-20.5) vs. Indiana
No.1 Florida (-21) at Kentucky
No.2 Texas(-36)vs. UTEP
No. 3Alabama (-17.5) vs. Arkansas
No. 4 Mississippi (-4) vs. South Carolina
No. 5 Penn State (-10) vs. Iowa
No. 6 California (-5.5) vs. Oregon
No. 7 LSU (-12) at Mississippi State
No. 8 Boise St. (-16.5) at Bowling Green
No. 9 Miami (-3) vs at No. 11 VA Tech
No.12 Southern Cal (-45) vs. Wash St.
No.13 Ohio State (-14) vs. Illinois
No.14 Cincinnati (-17) vs. Fresno State
No.15 TCU (-2.5) at Clemson
No.16 Okla. St. (NS) vs. Grambling St.
No.17 Houston (PK) vs. Texas Tech
No.18 Florida St. (-14) vs. South Florida
No.19 BYU (-17) vs. Colorado St.
No. 20 Kansas (-14) vs. Southern Miss.
No. 21 Georgia (-11.5) vs. Arizona State
No. 22 UNC (+3) at Georgia Tech
No. 24 Washington (+7) at Stanford
No. 25 Nebraska (-28) vs. La-Lafayette
Wisconsin (-3) vs. Michigan State
Northwestern (-1.5) vs. Minnesota
Purdue (+7) vs. Notre Dame
With just one game between
two ranked opponents, the week-
end has potential to
be uneventful. But
with two Hesiman
hopefuls on the
verge of stardom,
it should be
David Hines Jr.
To apply to be a guest picker, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. If you're chosen and can beat at least two of us, you'll stay on for another week. The longest tenured guest picker will get a prize at the end of the season.