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January 07, 2010 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2010-01-07

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8 - Friday, January 8, 2010

0

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

'Bama rolls to Nat'l Title

0

SAID ALSALAH/Dai y
Senior Steve Kampfer and the rest of the Wolverines need a second half run to keep their NCAA Tournament hopes alive.
Wolverines look to turn around
dismal first half against Broncos

With McCoy injured
early, freshman's
comeback effort falls
short for Texas
PASADENA, Calif. (AP) - The
sure thing was looking shaky for
Alabama.
Hanging onto a precarious
three-point lead and with momen-
tum on the other side, linebacker
Eryk Anders was determined not
to let the championship slip away.
Anders forced a fumble on his
blindside sack of Texas backup
quarterback Garrett Gilbert with
3:02 left Thursday night to help
the top-ranked Crimson Tide hold
on for a 37-21 victory in the BCS
title game - a win that figured
to be much easier when Alabama
knocked out Colt McCoy early in
the first quarter.
"I would have given anything to
be out there because it would have
been different," McCoy said.
With McCoy on the sideline
nursing a shoulder injury, the Tide
(14-0) rolled to a 24-6 lead at half-
time, the final touchdown coming
when lineman Marcell Dareus
picked off a shovel pass and
returned it 28 yards for the score
late in the second quarter.
"I was thinking about grabbing
the guy with the ball, but then I
said, 'Let me just grab this foot-
ball.' I wasn't even thinking about
the highlight. I was so excited. My
legs were weak, my muscles were

crazy, and I made it," Dareus said.
The second half figured to be a
laugher with Gilbert in the game
- a freshman who was Texas'
"quarterback of the future" but
had thrown only 26 college pass-
es.
The kid almost did it, though.
He threwtwotouchdown passes
to All-American Jordan Shipley to
trim the deficit to 24-21 with 6:15
left, and after an Alabama punt, he
had the ball at the 7-yard line, 93
yards away from one of the most
improbable comeback stories in
the history of the game.
But after an Alabama holding
penalty moved the ball to the 17,
Gilbert dropped back to pass and
got rockedby Anders, a senior who
plays in the shadow of All-Ameri-
cans Terrence Cody and Rolando
McClain. The ball went flying and
Courtney Upshaw recovered.
Three plays later, Heisman Tro-
phy winner Mark Ingram surged
into the end zone from theeI for the
10-point lead. A few minutes later,
after Gilbert's third interception
of the night, Trent Richardson
scored . his second touchdown to
make it 37-21.
Then the party began. Glory
came back to one of the country's
most storied programs, the foot-
ball factory that Bear Bryant built,,
courtesy of Nick Saban, who resur-
rected this team in the short span
of three seasons.
"We back," Ingram said.
Back for the first time since
1992, when Bryant's protege, Gene
Stallings, led the Crimson Tide

to its last national title. This one
gives Alabama eightsince the polls
began in the 1930s. Its seventh
Associated Press championship
should be a shoo-in when the votes
are tabulated.
Ingram finished with 116 yards
and two touchdowns and Rich-
ardson had 109 yards and two
scores.
Anders will go down with
them in Crimson Tide lore, as will
Dareus, who before his touchdown
knocked McCoy - the winningest
quarterback in college football
history - down and out with an
injury to his throwing shoulder on
Texas' fifth offensive play.
"I just heard a thump when I
hit him," Dareus said. "I did lay it
down pretty hard. I didn't try to,
but it felt great."
Dareus finished with one
tackle, one interception and one
touchdown, but all were game-
changers.
Seeking its second national
title in five years, Texas (13-1)
got to the game on the back of its
All-American quarterback, who
often looked like a one-man show
in leading the Longhorns to 13
straight wins.
After the injury, McCoy was
begging to go back in to finish his
last college game. His dad, inter-
viewed on TV, said the injury
wasn't that bad.
But Texas coaches decided to err
on the side of caution, and McCoy
spent the second half wearing a
headset on the sideline, trying to
encourage his teammates.

0

MICHAEL FLOREK
Daily Sports Writer
At 5-7 in the CCHA and 10-10-0
overall, the Michigan hockey team
has had a forgettable first half
But if the Wolverines continue
their inconsis-
tent play, they .
will be always Michigan
be remem- at Westen
bered. They M
will be the
teamthatfailed Matchup:
to make the Western 6-10-4;
NCAA tourna- Michigan 10-10
ment for the When: Friday,
first time in 20 7:35 P.M.
years, break- Where: Lawson
ing the longest Ice Arena
active streak in
the nation.
Last time the Wolverines
watched their peers in late March,
their season was stunningly simi-
lar. The 1989 team got off to a
mediocre start, 10-9-3immediately
after the Great Lakes Invitational.
Michigan went on to win 11 of its
last 15 games butstill missed out on
the postseason.
With almost no room for error,
Michigan's home-and-home
matchup with Western Michi-

gan means more than most games
against the Broncos - especially
after the Broncos came into Yost
and left with a victory a year ago.
"We've got to go into every game
thinking this is the biggest game of
the year," senior defensemen Steve
Kampfer said. "It starts tomor-
row, that's the biggest game of our
year. And then Saturday's the big-
gest game of our year and we got to
translate that into every game."
The Wolverines' special teams
will play a big part in the series as
their fourth-ranked penalty kill
will face a Bronco power play that
is last in the conference.
Perhaps more important is the
other side of the special teams
battle. Michigan's power play has
continued to improve from adismal
start. It goes up against a penalty
kill sliding in the opposite direction
- out of the last seven goals given up
by the Broncos, six have them have
come when theyare short-handed.
But despite what appears to
be a special teams advantage, the
Wolverines' success depends on
improvement in five-on-five play.
Through twenty games they have
the same amount of goals scored as
goals against, 36, when both teams
are playing at full strength.

"We're a .500 team, five-on-five.
That's not good enough," Michigan
coach Red Berenson said. "We can
talk all we want about how we have
to play better and we have to work
on this and that, but wove got to do'
it. We've got to do it in the games.
This is the time."
As time continues to tick down
on the season, Michigan has no
choice but to make a significant
turnaround if it wants to see its
usual postseason appearance.
"We'll turn it around," Berenson
said after getting swept by rival
Michigan State for their fourth
straight loss on November 14. "It's
just a matter of when."
Since that time, Michigan has
remained inconsistent, splitting
three of its four series. Nearly two
months later, Berenson continues.
to wait for his team to consistently
find the right direction.
How will he know when the
Wolverines are back to performing
at their potential?
"It'sgoingtobe aconvincing(l0-
game) segment," Berenson said.
"We need more than one game or
one period obviously. ... I wouldn't
be surprised if this team went on a
run, but we haven't proven that we
can."

SJUNCAJ
From page 7
This team needs a third scorer.
Anybody. Anytime. In any game.
Harris and Sims will continue to
score half this team's points. And
because Michigan has no other
offensively skilled postmen or
aggressive slashers, the Wolver-
ines' tournament hopes - how-
ever slim they still are - will
hinge on how often someone else
can chip in three or four triples to

keep defenses honest (and hesitant
to throw extra defenders at Harris
and Sims).
We're long past the point of
expecting one player to assume
that role, and the team under-
stands that. Lucas-Perry had not
hit a shot in four of his past six
games entering Thursday. Novak
(eight points yesterday) has just
four games with four-plus field
goals this season. Stu Douglass has
shown marked improvement at the
point since taking the starting job
Dec. 19, but was held to one basket
last night.

Between those three, Michi-
gan will need some respectable
combination of perimeter offense.
Beilein said he doesn't care who
gets hot as long as someone does.
Entering last night, the Wolver-
ines' RPI ranking was 176. They
now have just one true road win
this season, and still have major
problems with interior defense.
Looking toward March Madness,
they are absolutely on the outside
looking in at the moment.
But if yesterday was any indica-
tion, people should probably-bold
off on an obituary.

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