Monday, September 15, 2003
Michigan making BCS waves
No. 3 ranking, Heisman candidate have Wolverines eyeing Sugar Bowl
By Mike Lopresti
Gannett News Service
Move over Oklahoma, Miami, USC and anyone else at the table of genuine national championship contenders. We need a chair for Michigan.
"We wanted to make a statement," cornerback Jeremy LeSueur said after helping serve a 38-0 dose of history to Notre Dame.
The message is unmistakable. The 3-0 blastoff has come by a combined score of 133-10. Maybe included were a couple of hors d'oeuvres named Central Michigan and Houston, but nobody on the Notre Dame roster was alive the last time the Irish were shut out this badly.
The Wolverines have the hottest name on the early Heisman shopping list. Chris Perry already has rushed for 549 yards and scored eight times. Not that he'll keep it up, but it's a pace for 2,200 yards and 32 touchdowns.
They have a senior quarterback dedicated to making his legion of critics go away.
"I got an e-mail from a student once," John Navarre told the Detroit media last week, "who said I couldn't even play badminton."
They have a dangerous trip this week to Oregon, but the Big Ten schedule is cooperative. No Wisconsin or Penn State, and Purdue and Ohio State play in Ann Arbor.
No reason, then, to believe Michigan, No. 3 in the AP poll, won't be a BCS major player.
"We're not going to lose focus," Perry said. "We have something to prove."
Yes, they do. A couple of streaks eat at the Wolverines.
They have gone five seasons without a Big Ten title producing a Rose Bowl trip, the longest dry spell since the 1960s. They have lost consecutive games to the infidels from Ohio State, for the first time in two decades.
Not that they'd mind another Rose Bowl-less season. They'd rather be in New Orleans Jan. 4.
Tennessee at Florida. It's a good game for Gators coach Ron Zook to win to maintain domestic tranquility in Gainesville.
Michigan at Oregon. The Ducks have scored 121 points in going 3-0. The Wolverines have allowed 10.
"It was 54 minutes of us getting beat and six minutes of winning." - Florida State coach Bobby Bowden after the Seminoles rallied past Georgia Tech 14-13.
"Potentially. But not yet."- Notre Dame coach Tyrone Willingham, on whether the poor play of Carlyle Holiday at Michigan opens the door for a new race for the quarterback job.
Stat of the week
Michigan had the longest touchdown drive in its history against Notre Dame, lasting 10 minutes and 25 seconds, much longer than Notre Dame coach Willingham's postgame press conference, which went 2:32.
Thumbs up, down
Up to Arkansas. Whips Texas in Austin in first regular season meeting in 12 years. It's not a state holiday. But it's close.
Up to Nebraska. Huskers flex corn-fed biceps, run ball 72 times in 78 plays and overpower Penn State 337-44 on the ground.
Up to USC. Winning streak now 11, and Trojans have broken 30 points in 10 of them.
Up to North Carolina State-Ohio State officials. Last call at goal line - not giving the Wolfpack a touchdown - could have lived in infamy. But they got it right.
Down to John Mackovic. How not to win friends and influence people? Arizona coach is now 0-9 in Pac-10 games at home.
Down to Wisconsin. Eight sacks allowed, five turnovers, and one ugly 23-5 loss to a UNLV team picked to finish sixth in the Mountain West.
Raiders 23, Bengals 20
Daugherty: Potential evident in loss to AFC champs
Receiver his own worst critic
Notes: Gannon fails to move team until it counts
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