Big Ten: Fielding Yost
1. Big Ten championships: the Buckeyes have won or shared 34
2. Rose Bowl championships: the Buckeyes have 7
3. National championships: the Buckeyes have 13 (including all selections), most recently the BCS national title in 2002
At a traditional power like Ohio State, if no championship is won, the season is pretty much forgotten.
Ohio State's seniors entered their final season with the sobering knowledge that they couldn't achieve any of these goals. A postseason ban for NCAA violations deprived them of competing in the Big Ten title game or any bowl game. The only championship they could win was the Leaders Division.
Their only chance to truly make history was to do something that often has proven harder than winning the Big Ten, the Rose Bowl or even the national title. They had to be perfect. Only 10 previous Ohio State teams have recorded undefeated, untied regular seasons. Only five previous Ohio State teams -- 1916, 1944, 1954, 1968 and 2002 -- finished the postseason without a loss or a tie. Only two previous Buckeye squads, the 2002 and 2006 versions, started a season 12-0.
Add in the fact Ohio State had a new coach (Urban Meyer), a partially new staff and a mostly young team coming off of the program's first 7-loss season since 1897, and the idea of perfection seemed more fantasy than reality.
It's real now.
"So far, we've done a pretty good job of that."
Ohio State sits at 10-0 for the first time since 2007. The Buckeyes are one of just four undefeated teams in the FBS (No. 1 Kansas State, No. 2 Oregon and No. 3 Notre Dame are the others). They have quite possibly their two toughest games left, a trip Saturday to Wisconsin followed by The Game against archrival Michigan on Nov. 24 at Ohio Stadium.
The focus inside the Woody Hayes Athletic Center this week is Wisconsin, just like it had been Illinois, Penn State and Purdue in previous weeks. But Ohio State's quest for perfection is in the home stretch.
"It'll be one of those things where, after the Michigan game, if we are 12-0, we'll look back and be like, 'Wow, we really did it. We really went 12-0,'" Buckeyes linebacker (formerly fullback) Zach Boren told ESPN.com. "But we still have two huge weeks ahead of us."
Let's attempt to put into context what a 12-0 season would mean for Ohio State and Meyer, with help from the fine crew at ESPN Stats & Info:
- Ohio State would be the fourth team on postseason probation to record an undefeated season. Auburn was most recent to do it in 1993 (11-0). Oklahoma also recorded back-to-back undefeated seasons in 1973 (10-0-1) and 1974 (11-0), winning the AP national title in 1974.
- Few undefeated teams from major conferences suffered as many losses the previous season as Ohio State's seven in 2011. You have to go back quite a few years for some of the better comparisons. Purdue went from 1-8 in 1942 to 9-0 in 1943. Stanford went from 1-7-1 in 1939 to 10-0 in 1940. Ohio State went from 3-5 in 1943 to 9-0 the following year.
- Meyer would tie Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema for the most wins in his first season in the Big Ten. He's already the third Ohio State coach to start his career at 10-0 -- Earle Bruce (1979) and Carroll Widdoes (1944) are the others.
- Widdoes (12-0) and former Michigan coach Fielding Yost (29-0) are the only Big Ten coaches to start their careers with 12 or more wins.
- Meyer would become just the second coach to go 12-0 or better in his first season at a school. Larry Coker went 12-0 at Miami in 2001, winning a national title, and Chris Petersen went 13-0 at Boise State in 2006. Terry Bowden might be the best comparison to Meyer, as he went 11-0 with probation-laden Auburn in 1993.
The potential historical significance isn't lost on the Buckeyes, especially the seniors.
"That's how I want to go out," Stoneburner said. "It'd be nice to go 12-0 and get an opportunity to play for a national championship or play for a Rose Bowl, but we were able to play for a Rose Bowl [three seasons ago], we were able to play for a Sugar Bowl [two seasons ago, later vacated] and a Fiesta Bowl [four seasons ago]. The one thing we can't say is that we went undefeated throughout a season.
"For this class and what we've gone through, for us to be able to go 12-0, that'd be probably my biggest accomplishment since I've been in school. We're going to make sure we do everything to make that happen."
Boren credits Meyer and the staff for keeping the focus on the immediate. The team doesn't shout "12-0!" at the end of practice or have any signs about going undefeated. Instead, the signs around the complex point to the next win total. There were a lot of 10s displayed before the last game against Illinois, and there are a lot of 11s displayed this week.
Meyer said Tuesday he considered selling the Wisconsin game as Ohio State's Big Ten championship and the Michigan game as the Buckeyes' bowl. But the team doesn't need that.
"I don't think we’re going to have to make any special T-shirts or talk about bowl games or championships," he said. "... There's no issue with us getting ready for this game."
The Buckeye seniors also understand that this season is a starting point.
"We wanted to make sure we had a good first year under Coach Meyer and a good last year for us," Boren said. "This program's just going to take off, and we wanted to help any way possible. We knew if we could set the tone this year and have a good season, even when nothing really counted, that the younger guys will learn how to win."
The three championships will be back on the table in 2013. Ohio State likely will be favored to win the Big Ten and possibly the Rose Bowl, and the Buckeyes will be mentioned as a potential national title contender. They'll attempt to record a season to remember.
Just like they're doing now.
"Any time you can go undefeated and finish strong, especially with this senior class, you'll definitely leave a legacy," Boren said. "Even in a season where we can't go to the Big Ten championship game or a bowl game, you can still have a season that you will always remember."
While each program saves most of its venom for other schools -- Ohio State and USC, respectively -- the series was sparked by plenty of tension, even hatred, between iconic coaches Fielding Yost of Michigan and Knute Rockne of Notre Dame. You might have heard of them.
As colleague Ivan Maisel wrote this spring:
Yost believed Rockne cut corners in recruiting, promising employment and scholarship aid that the rules did not allow and looking the other way when Irish players participated in pro football games on the side. Rockne believed Yost to be a hypocrite and grew to despise him. As a reform movement swept the Big Ten in the 1920s, Yost not only led the opposition to Notre Dame's membership, he pressured Minnesota to end a series of games with the Catholic institution.Read Maisel's full story here.
When Yost attempted to institute some reforms through the American Football Coaches Association at its 1927-28 convention, Sperber wrote, Rockne led the opposition that overwhelmed him.
Rockne attributed some of Yost's feeling against Notre Dame to the native West Virginian's religious discrimination. After the 1929 season, when Yost quashed yet another attempt to arrange a game between the schools, Rockne responded to a fan's letter by calling Yost "the Senator [Tom] Heflin of Middlewestern athletics." Heflin, from Alabama, was so anti-Catholic that it cost him his Senate seat in a 1930 election.
- Michigan State running back Le'Veon Bell has gained 39.6 percent (111 of 280) of his yards after contact this season. Bell gained 84 or his 210 yards (40 percent) against Boise State and 27 of his 70 yards (39.6 percent) against Central Michigan after contact. Bell is averaging 5.6 yards per rush when there are six or fewer defenders in the box. That number drops by 2.1 yards when there are seven or more defenders in the box.
- Wisconsin's 10-7 loss to Oregon State was the first regular-season non-conference loss for head coach Bret Bielema. His 25 straight regular-season nonconference wins marked the second best start to a career by a Big Ten head coach. Bielema trails only Michigan's Fielding Yost, who started 41-0 in nonconference games from 1901-06.
- Through two games, Nebraska has posted an average gain of 7.8 yards on first down. The Huskers have had 71 first-down plays this season and totaled 553 yards, producing 52 percent of their total yards on first down. Nebraska racked up 359 yards on 38 first-down snaps in the season opener against Southern Miss, averaging 9.4 yards on first down. Against UCLA last Saturday, the Huskers gained 194 yards on 33 first-down snaps, an average of 5.9 yards per play.
- Iowa's defense has allowed only 19 points on seven red-zone trips by opposing offenses through the first two games. The Hawkeyes recorded three red-zone takeaways against Iowa State last week (2 fumbles, 1 interception). On the flip side, Iowa's offense has yet to score a touchdown in six red-zone possessions this season.
- Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson completes 66.2 percent of his passes with 12 touchdowns and one interception when taking the snap under center. He completes 56.4 percent of his passes with 31 touchdowns and 32 interceptions when not under center. Robinson had 10 rushes against Air Force last Saturday during which he did not get touched until at-least five yards past the line of scrimmage, the second most in his career. He had 11 in Week 3 last season against Eastern Michigan.
- Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller averages eight yards per rush on scrambles during his career with 17 of his 51 runs gaining 10 yards or more. Miller most frequently takes off on third down with 21.9 percent of his third down drop-backs ending in scrambles. Those third-down scrambles have led to 11 first downs for the Buckeyes.
- Penn State is facing a program record 10 teams that played in bowl games last season, with five games at home. Navy, which visits Beaver Stadium on Saturday, was 5-7 last season and had played in eight consecutive bowl games before missing by one win in 2011. Penn State is 18-17-2 all-time against Navy and 41-37-5 all-time against the four FBS independents (Navy, Notre Dame, Army and BYU).
- Minnesota has four interceptions this season, already equaling its total from last season. Derrick Wells picked off two passes and Brock Vereen had one interception at UNLV. Martez Shabazz notched his first career interception against New Hampshire. The Gophers are tied for eighth nationally in interceptions. However, they have only one return yard, which is the fewest of the 13 teams who have four or more interceptions this season.
- Michigan State has won four straight night games in Spartan Stadium, including two on the last play of the game. Against Notre Dame in 2010, Aaron Bates' 29-yard touchdown pass to Charlie Gantt off a fake field goal gave MSU a 34-31 overtime victory. Against Wisconsin in 2010, Kirk Cousins completed a 44-yard Hail Mary pass to Keith Nichol on the final play of regulation. Spartans coach Mark Dantonio is 5-1 in night games played in Spartan Stadium.
- With a come-from-behind 23-13 victory against Vanderbilt in Week 2, Northwestern's streak of consecutive home victories against nonconference foes reached 11 games, the 15th-longest active streak among FBS programs. The Wildcats have not lost to a team from outside the Big Ten at Ryan Field since falling to Duke on Sept. 15, 2007.
- Illinois has controlled time of possession in both of its games this season, owning a margin of more than 11 minutes against both Western Michigan (35:02-24:58) and Arizona State (35:15-24:44). The Illini rank sixth nationally and second in the Big Ten (after Michigan State) in time of possession (35:09).
- Indiana held one opponent under 20 points last season. In its first two wins in 2012, IU has surrendered 17 points to Indiana State and six points to Massachusetts. Indiana last held an opponent in single digits back in 2008, a 45-3 victory over Murray State. The Hoosiers also held the Minutemen to 78 yards on the ground, the first time they held an opponent under the century mark since Nov. 27, 2010 (at Purdue, 58).
- A season removed from needing seven games to amass at least seven sacks, Purdue has reached that total in merely two games after recording five against Notre Dame last weekend. Purdue enters the Eastern Michigan game tied for 13th nationally and tied for first in the Big Ten in sacks per game (3.5). Purdue's five sacks against Notre Dame equaled the season highs for each of the past four years.
Paterno was affiliated with the Nittany Lions program for 62 years of its 125-year existence. He served as Nittany Lions coach for nearly 46 seasons before being fired in November. And his impact is particularly significant in the program's victories total.
Michael Hickey/US PresswireAccounting for nearly 50 percent of the program's wins, Joe Paterno was the face of Penn State.
ESPN.com is taking a closer look at coaches this week, and today's topic examines which programs are defined by one coach. Penn State fits the description because of Paterno's long and successful career. Penn State also is unique because its program has been around so long, and while there was success before JoePa -- eight undefeated seasons between 1894-1947, a Rose Bowl appearance in 1923 -- almost all of the program's significant achievements (two national titles, 24 bowl wins) occurred on Paterno's watch.
What about the other Big Ten teams?
In terms of winningest coaches, here's how they look:
Illinois: Robert Zuppke, 131 of program's 580 wins (22.6 percent)
Indiana: Bill Mallory, 69 of 449 (15.3 percent)
Iowa: Hayden Fry, 143 of 593 (24.1 percent)
Michigan: Bo Schembechler, 194 of 895 (21.7 percent)
Michigan State: Duffy Daugherty, 109 of 638 (17.1 percent)
Minnesota: Henry Williams, 136 of 646 (21.1 percent)
Nebraska: Tom Osborne, 255 of 846 (30.1 percent)
Northwestern: Lynn Waldorf, 49 of 488 (10.04 percent)
Ohio State: Woody Hayes, 205 of 837 (24.5 percent)
Purdue: Joe Tiller, 87 of 586 (14.8 percent)
Wisconsin: Barry Alvarez, 118 of 635 (18.6 percent)
As you can see, no coach comes close to Paterno in terms of percentage of his program's wins. But this ratio is just one gauge of a program-defining coach.
Another important factor is a team's history both before and after a coach took the job. Look at Wisconsin before Alvarez arrived in 1990. The program had endured five consecutive losing seasons and had just six winning seasons since 1963. Wisconsin's previous two coaches, Don Morton and Jim Hilles, had gone a combined 9-36 at the helm.
Alvarez transformed Wisconsin into an upper-tier Big Ten program, leading the Badgers to three Big Ten titles and three Rose Bowl championships. His hand-picked successor, Bret Bielema, has carried on Wisconsin's momentum, but Alvarez fostered the change. He is Wisconsin football, period.
Two iconic coaches regarded by many the faces of their respective programs are Ohio State's Hayes and Michigan's Schembechler. They tied for the most Big Ten championships with 13. Hayes won the most Big Ten games (152 to Schembechler's 143), while Schembechler owns the record for best winning percentage in conference games (.850).
But both men led programs that had success under other coaches. Michigan was a national superpower under the likes of Fielding Yost (.888 career win percentage), Harry Kipke, Fritz Crisler and Bennie Oosterbaan, while Schembechler never won a consensus national title. The Wolverines boast six coaches who have served 10 or more years, most recently Lloyd Carr (1995-2007).
Ohio State carved a place among the nation's elite under shorter-tenured coaches like Francis Schmidt and Paul Brown, while Jim Tressel won a national title and more than 81 percent of his games during his 10 years in Columbus.
Are Michigan and Ohio State defined by Schembechler and Hayes, respectively? Depends on your perspective. My take: both are iconic, but Hayes is more defining.
Iowa's Fry fills a similar role to Alvarez. He took over a program on the downturn for several decades and put it in the Big Ten's top half. Fry is the coach people think of when Iowa comes to mind, although his successor, Kirk Ferentz, has put his own stamp with a solid run since 1999.
Other Big Ten programs seem to fit into different categories.
Programs with two great coaches:
- Nebraska -- Osborne (255-49-3) and Bob Devaney (101-20-2)
- Purdue -- Tiller (87-62) and Jack Mollenkopf (84-39-9)
- Illinois -- Zuppke (131-81-13 from 1913-41); Arthur Hall (27-10-3 from 1907-12)
- Minnesota -- Williams (136-33-11 from 1900-21; Bernie Bierman (93-35-6 from 1932-41 and 1945-50)
- Michigan State -- Daugherty (109-69-5 from 1954-72); Biggie Munn (54-9-2 from 1947-53); Charles Bachman (70-34-10 from 1933-46); Chester Brewer (58-23-7 from 1903-10, 1917, 1919)
- Indiana -- No coach with career winning record since Bo McMillin (1934-47), no coach with 70 or more wins at school
- Northwestern -- No coach with 50 or more wins at school, only one coach with tenure longer than 10 years
You could argue Zuppke remains Illinois' defining coach, even though he hasn't coached in more than 70 years. Osborne is undoubtedly the face of Nebraska's program, but is he the Huskers' defining coach? Tough to say that after looking at what Devaney did (two national titles, eight Big Eight titles).
Could any current Big Ten coach end up being a program-defining figure? None will occupy his job as long as Paterno did at Penn State. Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald is just nine wins shy of Waldorf's victories mark, and he turned 37 in December. Fitzgerald's strong ties to the program, plus Northwestern's poor history and absence of coaching greats, create an opportunity should Fitzgerald have success for a long period.
What are your thoughts? Which Big Ten programs are defined by a coach, and which are not? Share them here.
"They always have curfew," Hoke said. "(I) didn't go out on Bourbon Street. They went out on a paddleboat ride, did that."
Senior tight end Kevin Koger said the team had a 9:30 p.m. curfew on New Year's Eve, and keeping his team out of trouble was just one of the many things Hoke hit on during his first news conference of 2012.
- Bret Bielema took over as Wisconsin's head coach in 2006 and is 23-0 in regular-season nonconference games with the Badgers. That is tied with Joe Paterno for the second-best start by a Big Ten coach (Paterno’s nonconference streak started when Penn State began Big Ten play in 1993). Michigan's Fielding Yost has the record with 41 straight.
- Nebraska has won 16 straight games against current Mountain West Conference teams and is 20-2 all-time. The last time the Huskers lost to a current MWC team was 1963 against Air Force. Wyoming is 1-14 all-time against current Big Ten teams, its only win coming against Wisconsin in 1986.
- If Michigan wins this week, Brady Hoke would be the third coach in Michigan history to defeat a team that he coached the previous season. In 1901, Yost came to Ann Arbor from Stanford and promptly thumped his old team 49-0 in the first ever Rose Bowl. In 1929, Harry Kipke came to Michigan after one season as head coach at Michigan State. Michigan beat its intrastate rival 17-0 that season.
- Wisconsin leads the Big Ten in scoring offense and defense, ranking in the Top 15 nationally in both categories (T-11th in offense, T-4th in defense). It joins Stanford and Texas Tech as the only other teams to rank in the top 15 in both categories.
- Illinois is 3-0 for the first time since 2001. That year, the Illini went 10-2 and played in the Sugar Bowl. The previous five times the Illini started 3-0, they lost their next game. Illinois hasn't started a season 4-0 since 1951.
Three items with Big Ten connections made the rundown, including one play I remember well -- and Iowa fans will never forget -- from the 2005 Capital One Bowl.
56. Fantastic Finish
Iowa beats LSU in bowl game's final play
Jan. 1, 2005: Known by Iowa fans simply as "The Catch," Drew Tate and Warren Holloway produced one of the most exciting finishes in bowl history. Iowa had squandered a 24-12 fourth-quarter lead and trailed LSU 25-24 with 46 seconds left in the 2005 Capital One Bowl. A penalty pushed back Iowa to its own 44-yard line, and no timeout was called as the clock ticked. Needing a miracle, Tate launched the ball to Holloway, who slipped into the end zone for a 56-yard touchdown as time expired.
-- Adam Rittenberg
44. Red Baron
Red Grange runs all over unbeaten Michigan
Oct. 18, 1924: Michigan visited Illinois riding a 20-game unbeaten streak, and athletic director Fielding Yost had confidence his team could handle Illini star Harold "Red" Grange. Yost was wrong. Grange entered college football lore that day, scoring four touchdowns in the first 12 minutes. He capped the scintillating stretch with a 44-yard scoring run. After a rest, Grange returned to record his fifth touchdown and threw for a sixth as Illinois thumped Michigan 39-14. Grange compiled 402 yards in the win.
-- Adam Rittenberg
42. Leonard Part II
Leonard Conley runs Miami past Nebraska in Orange Bowl
Jan. 2, 1989: Miami's diminutive Leonard Conley stood tall in the Orange Bowl against Nebraska, scoring both of the Hurricanes' touchdowns in a 23-3 win. The second score stood out, as he caught a Steve Walsh pass in the flat, juked Nebraska's Lorenzo Hicks and scooted down the sideline for a 42-yard touchdown. Miami receiver Dale Dawkins spurred Conley with a crushing downfield block. The catch marked Conley's longest in college as Miami handed Nebraska its first loss of the season.
-- Adam Rittenberg
Watching video from the 2005 Capital One Bowl, I forgot how desperate things had gotten for Iowa before the Tate pass to Holloway. Coach Kirk Ferentz would have taken heat for clock management -- much like he did after last year's loss to Wisconsin -- had things worked out differently. But that's the thing about these plays -- they make everything else irrelevant.
Tressel spent 10 seasons in Columbus, compiling a 106-22 record (66-14 Big Ten).
Many thanks to ESPN's Stats & Information crew for the following nuggets on Tressel's time at Ohio State (note: there's a possibility these numbers could change depending on NCAA penalties against Tressel/Ohio State):
- Tressel is tied with Oklahoma's Bob Stoops for the most appearances by a coach in BCS bowls (8). He boasts a 5-3 record that includes a 1-2 mark in games that decided the national championship.
- Tressel has guided Ohio State to 10 or more wins in six consecutive seasons, the fifth-longest such streak in FBS history and the longest in Big Ten history.
- Tressel is the only coach in NCAA history to win more than 100 games at two separate schools (Youngstown State and Ohio State).
- Tressel's 106 wins are the third most by an Ohio State coach, behind Woody Hayes (205) and John Cooper (111). His winning percentage of .827, meanwhile, is significantly higher than both Hayes (.761) and Cooper (.715).
- Tressel last year became the third-fastest coach in Big Ten history to reach 100 victories, doing so in his 121st game. Michigan's Bo Schembechler and Fielding Yost both reached the 100-win mark in 119 games.
- Under Tressel, the Buckeyes spent 14 weeks as the No. 1-ranked team.
Several more nuggets from yours truly ...
- Tressel's Big Ten winning percentage ranks second in league history behind only Schembechler (.850).
- He coached 21 first-team All-Americans at Ohio State and 47 first-team All-Big Ten selections.
- Tressel boasts a 9-1 record against archrival Michigan and is the only Ohio State coach to defeat the Wolverines in seven consecutive games.
- Jim Tressel’s next win will be his 100th as the Ohio State coach (99-21 record). Only two coaches have reached 100 wins at a Big Ten school in fewer games than Tressel -- Fielding Yost and Bo Schembechler (both at Michigan). Each accomplished the feat in their 119th game at the school.
- Indiana is 0-26 all-time against teams ranked No. 1 or No. 2. The highest-ranked opponent the Hoosiers have defeated is No. 3 Purdue in November 1967. IU faces No. 2 Ohio State on Saturday.
- This is just the third time that both Michigan and Michigan State have started 5-0 in the same season and the first time since 1999. That season was also the last time both teams came into this game undefeated. Michigan State won the game 34-31 in East Lansing. It's the first time these two teams have met as ranked opponents since 2003 when 11th-ranked Michigan beat 9th-ranked Michigan State 27-20 in East Lansing.
- Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson has 98 rush attempts this season, but only once has he scrambled for a gain after dropping back and looking to throw the ball. Robinson has been the designated ballcarrier on a running play 76 times, has kept the ball on a zone read 19 times, and the final two rushes were a sack and a fumbled snap. Robinson has used a run-fake before exactly one-third of his passes this season, and he has completed more than 78 percent of his passes after faking the run. Perhaps the greatest effect of Michigan’s play-action is giving Robinson time to hit receivers downfield.
- After being ranked in the Associated Press poll for the past 38 polls (tied with Alabama for fourth-longest in the nation), Penn State is not ranked in the AP or USA Today Coaches' polls this week.
- Indiana is the only team in the country with three receivers in the top 30 in receptions per game -- Damarlo Belcher, Tandon Doss and Terrance Turner -- and is one of two programs (Hawaii) with two receivers in the top 12 in receiving yards per game (Belcher and Doss).
- Wisconsin has not turned the ball over since the third quarter of the San Jose State game. The last time the Badgers had three consecutive games without a turnover was during the first three games of the 2007 season when Wisconsin had zero giveaways against Washington State, UNLV and The Citadel. Wisconsin is 30-5 under coach Bret Bielema when it wins the turnover battle or is even in turnover margin.
- Saturday night's meeting between Purdue and Northwestern will be played almost 75 years to the day of the first-ever night game in Big Ten history. That game also involved Northwestern and Purdue, on Oct. 5, 1935 in Evanston. Purdue and Northwestern have not met in a night game since that inaugural game under the lights.
- Before last week's game with Northwestern, Minnesota junior running back DeLeon Eskridge hadn't rushed for 100 yards or more in nearly two years. Eskridge ripped off 119 yards against the Wildcats for his third career 100-yard game. The last time he eclipsed the century mark was Oct. 11, 2008 when he rushed for 124 at Illinois. In between those two games, he hadn’t rushed for more than 80 yards.
- Northwestern has started 5-0 for the second time in the past three years. It has not started 6-0 since 1962, the last time Northwestern was ranked No. 1 in the nation.
- Illinois is one of only five teams in the nation to score on all of its red zone drives this season. In 12 trips inside the 20, the Illini have scored seven touchdowns and five field goals. East Carolina (15-15), Washington (13-13), San Jose State (9-9) and Memphis (8-8) are the only other teams with a perfect red-zone scoring percentage.
- Purdue senior defensive end Ryan Kerrigan forced his 12th career fumble against Toledo on Sept. 25 to tie James Looney (1979-80) for the team record. His next strip will tie him for the Big Ten record, which is currently shared by Simeon Rice of Illinois (1992-95) and Bob Sanders of Iowa (2000-03).
Adam Rittenberg: So, Bennett, we meet again. Good starts for both the Irish and the Wolverines on Saturday, and it should be a great one in South Bend. Let's talk offense. What do you think Knute Rockne and Fielding Yost would say about these two systems matching up?
Matt Cashore/US PresswireArmando Allen gained 93 yards on 18 carries and scored a TD against Purdue.
Yet, for all the talk of the spread offense, Notre Dame stuck to an old staple to beat Purdue: the running game. Running backs Armando Allen and Cierre Wood together averaged better than six yards per carry, and the Irish were happy to hand off and stick to the short passing game as the Boilermakers defense played Cover 2 and protected against the deep ball. I don't think Michigan will attack Notre Dame the same way, and the bubble wrap will have to come off quarterback Dayne Crist in Week 2.
As for the Wolverines, Denard Robinson was incredible. But I didn't see a whole lot out of the backs and receivers, and now it looks like Roy Roundtree won't play. Is Michigan a one-man offense, and can it win on Saturday that way?
AR: Good point about the Irish run game, and I think the matchup between Michigan's defensive line and Notre Dame's offensive front could decide the game. Despite the loss of Brandon Graham, Michigan boasts good experience and talent up front with Mike Martin, Greg Banks, Ryan Van Bergan and dynamic sophomore Craig Roh. They'll try to take advantage of a young Notre Dame line that, despite all the talk about weight room progress, remains unproven in my eyes.
Robinson was ridiculous against Connecticut, and you can't expect him to duplicate the performance in South Bend. Then again, the guy only needs about a foot of daylight to break through the line, and then, good luck trying to bring him down. Vincent Smith and Michael Shaw both scored touchdowns in the opener, but they'll need to be more effective out of the backfield against the Irish. Roundtree would be a big loss, but wideouts Darryl Stonum and Kelvin Grady, and tight end Kevin Koger all are good targets for Robinson, who also hooked up with Terrence Robinson for a 43-yard gain.
In many ways, Michigan won the UConn game at the line of scrimmage. How do you see the two groups matching up on Saturday?
BB: The Irish played well in the trenches against Purdue, but Michigan presents a tougher challenge. With the way Brian Kelly runs the spread, the ball is out of the quarterback's hand quickly, so that neutralizes the pass rush to some degree. The key in my mind is whether the Notre Dame line can open running lanes when the Wolverines drop men into coverage.
Defensively, the front three for Notre Dame proved stout against Purdue, and surprisingly the backups gave them a solid rotation. Ian Williams looks like a perfect fit as nose tackle in a 3-4, and Kapron Lewis-Moore and Ethan Johnson can make plays off the edge. I think the pressure is on the Irish linebackers to make plays in this game. Manti Te'o should be a stud and the perfect antidote to Robinson, but he missed a lot of tackles in Week 1. Darius Fleming is their hybrid guy, and he was stuck on the sidelines with cramps for most of the Purdue game. Once Robinson gets through the first line of defense, can the Irish contain him in the open field?
How about the Michigan pass defense? Connecticut missed some opportunities there, but the Huskies don't have guys like Michael Floyd and Kyle Rudolph at their disposal.
AR: Totally agree about Connecticut missing some major opportunities to attack downfield, especially in the first two and a half quarters. Michigan is extremely young in the secondary and likely will be down another starter, as linebacker-safety Carvin Johnson sprained his knee in the opener. Michael Floyd absolutely shredded this defense a year ago, so you can bet Notre Dame will try to get him the ball a lot on Saturday. We'll likely see a lot of Floyd vs. Floyd, as Michigan's J.T. Floyd as emerged as the team's top cornerback and forced a big fumble against UConn. Cue the Pink Floyd music.
I'm interested to see how Michigan approaches Rudolph, a matchup problem for pretty much any team he faces. Linebackers Jonas Mouton and Obi Ezeh played well in the opener, but they'll certainly be tested by No. 9. Roh brought a ton of heat against UConn, but he might have to drop back more in this game.
OK, Bennett, you're on the spot. Your Michigan-UConn pick didn't work out so great, and some of my new friends in Ann Arbor were calling you nasty names Friday night. Who wins Saturday and what's the biggest key to the game?
BB: Well, I'm happy to play the villain in Ann Arbor as long as they still let me in the bars there. I have little doubt this will be a close game, possibly as exciting as last year's shootout. Notre Dame will have its hands full with Robinson, but I think the Irish have a more well-rounded offensive attack. And they will take advantage of that young secondary while making just enough plays of their own defensively. A special-teams play might be the difference. Brian Kelly gets his first big win as the Irish squeak by.
Now tell me why I'm wrong.
AR: You're always welcome in Ann Arbor. Just tell them you know me.
It'll definitely be a close game, and like last year, we should have a dramatic finish. Michigan's young secondary concerns me, and Crist will make plays downfield to both Floyd and Rudolph. But I also have my doubts about Notre Dame's line play and the overall toughness of that team. Robinson is certainly the X-factor here, and while Michigan can't run him 29 times again, he'll make some big plays. If special teams makes the difference, Michigan could be in trouble. Notre Dame jumps ahead, but D-Rob leads the Wolverines back in the fourth quarter for a narrow win and continues to grow his legend in Ann Arbor.
Tony Ding/Icon SMILloyd Carr's tenure as associate athletic director officially ends on Sept. 1.
He'll turn 65 about a month before his official retirement.
“I am thankful for the wonderful opportunity to assist two great coaches here in Bo Schembechler and Gary Moeller and I will always appreciate Joe Roberson’s decision to name me the head coach in 1995," Carr said in a statement. "I am also appreciative for those I worked with and for all the great friendships I have developed. Most of all, I am thankful for the young men I coached and for all the memories I have from my time at Michigan.”
Carr will be remembered for many things, including his commitment to Michigan and his charitable work outside the program. He had great success as a head coach early in his tenure and maintained stability, though his struggles against archrival Ohio State can't be forgotten. Still, given the current state of Michigan's program, it's interesting to think how things might be different if Carr still roamed the sidelines.
Here's a quick rundown of Carr's time at Michigan:
- 30 years of service (15 years as assistant coach, 13 years as head coach, two plus years as administrator)
- Overall record 122–40 (81-23 Big Ten)
- National championship in 1997
- Big Ten championships in 1997, 1998, 2000, 2003 and 2004
- AFCA Coach of the Year, Walter Camp Coach of the Year, Bear Bryant Award in 1997
- One of only three Michigan coaches to win more than 100 games (Schembechler and Fielding Yost are the others)
- Seventh coach in NCAA history to have reached 29 wins in just three seasons
- Ninth in Big Ten history in most overall wins (122), sixth in Big Ten wins (81) and ninth in league titles (5)
Statement from Michigan president Mary Sue Coleman: "Lloyd Carr's legacy is an impressive and important part of Michigan's rich history and tradition of excellence in football. He has served the University as well through his advocacy and passion for a number of philanthropic causes. We are grateful for his long and successful service and wish him well in retirement."
Statement from Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon: "I have known Lloyd since he came to Michigan as an assistant coach. Coach Carr is a man of integrity. I admire and appreciate his love for all of our student-athletes and his many contributions to not only our University, but his work on behalf of numerous charitable causes throughout the State of Michigan."
Michigan would like to restore its most famous game-day ritual -- winning -- in the 2010 season, but for now, let's look at some of the school's top traditions, as suggested by you folks. Wisconsin is up next in the traditions series.
- Touching the banner: Every college football fan worth his or her salt has seen Wolverines players and coaches race onto the field and jump to touch the "Go Blue: M Club Supports You" banner, as the marching band plays "The Victors." The tradition started in 1962.
- Seat for Fritz Crisler: For every home game, Michigan reserves one seat in the stadium for former head coach and athletics director Fritz Crisler. The tradition was started by legendary former coach Fielding Yost. All Michigan Stadium capacity figures have ended with 1, to honor Crisler. The seat's location is not revealed.
- The Wave: If Michigan has a game well in hand, the student section will start The Wave and go through a series of creative versions. They'll slow it down, speed it up and send two waves in opposite directions. In such a large stadium, it looks pretty cool.
- Tunnel Walk: There's only one way to enter the playing field at the Big House, and that's through the tunnel at the 50-yard line. Michigan's team entrance is certainly a sight to see.
- Temptation/The Hawaiian War Chant: The Michigan marching band has played these two percussion beats after games for four decades. The band also plays "Temptation" after the Wolverines' defense makes a third-down stop.
- Hail to the Victors: It's quite possibly the most famous fight song in all of college sports, and you'll hear it in and around Michigan Stadium throughout game days in the fall.
- Guarding the "M" on The Diag: During the week leading up to Michigan's rivalry game against Michigan State, fraternity members guard the block M at the center of The Diag on campus to prevent any vandalism.
- Victors' Walk: The tradition of players and coaches making a longer walk to the stadium began under Bump Elliott in the 1960s and continued during the early Bo Schembechler years. Current head coach Rich Rodriguez brought back the tradition in 2008, as the team makes a 200-yard walk to the stadium two hours before games.
AP Photo/Tony DingThe tradition of touching the banner has been around for almost half a century.
Andrew from Ann Arbor, Mich.: There are so many great traditions here at Michigan. 1. One of the best things about Michigan is the Fight Song," The Victors." There is no better song on this green Earth; there were times even when President Ford played it rather than "Hail to the Chief." 2. Also, at every home game, the drumline sets up in the North end zone at the end of the first quarter and plays a cadence for the student section. 3. The Big House is itself one of the greatest venues for football ever. With the longest streak of over 100,000 fans at a game, the Big House is an amazing scene every football Saturday, with 100,000 fans flooding the streets headed to the game. 4. There are several symbols in Michigan Football that are never forgotten. The Winged Helmet and the Block M are probably the most recognized symbols in all of college football. 5. Every year we have MSU at home, one of the fraternities protects the bronze M at the center of the Diag on Central Campus. This is because, one great year, we went to Lansing and painted their hideous statue Blue. 6. After a victory, all Wolverines start the chant, "It's Great to be, a Michigan Wolverine!"That's just to name a few. Love the blog, but most importantly, LET'S GO BLUE!
Dan from Gilbert, Ariz.: As an alum and former trumpet player in the marching band (rank 7 rules!) and having grown up in pac-10 land where football tradition is laughable in comparison (people have to care about a tradition for it to be an actual tradition) I came to U of M in large part because of the tradition. Yes...I know everyone loves script Ohio, but the block M, with the band bursting out of the tunnel and the twirlers (including my future wife at the time) and drum major coming through to the sounds of M-fanfare and then leading into Victors down the field punctuated by the drum major throwing his baton over the cross bar and going into his backbend is far better. And then postgame there's temptation/war chant followed by the singing of the alma mater (the yellow and blue) in backwards hats on the field after a win...and on and on...the band alone could give you ten traditions...
Curt from Chicago: Football traditions:Michigan: I imagine you've already got "touching the banner" as the team runs from the tunnel, our helmets got wings and the great fight song. Other cool traditions:1) Michigan Stadium has always had an 'extra' seat reserved for Fielding Yost (I'm not sure if this will continue with the improvements) but prior to the renovations it was 107,501, during renovations capacity is 106,201. Supposedly only Fritz Crisler knew its exact location.2) Not sure if this qualifies, but walking through (or participating in) the student tailgating on state street from south university ave to hoover ave is quite an experience.3) Little brown jug battle with minny - oldest trophy in college football4) The #1 jersey on our best wide receiver (if there is a worthy one on the team)5) Winningest team in college football history.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Love and hate are the themes of the day around these parts, so I figured I'd chime in about the Big Ten. There are many reasons why I love covering football in this conference, and a few things I'm not so crazy about.
Let's begin with five good things.Big stadiums -- Size matters in the Big Ten, which boasts three of the nation's four largest stadiums at Michigan, Penn State and Ohio State. Ohio Stadium, Beaver Stadium and Camp Randall Stadium are on the short list of toughest places to play, and other Big Ten venues (Kinnick Stadium, Spartan Stadium) add their own charm. The game-day experience is truly captured where Big Ten teams call home.
The Game (and other rivalries) -- The Big Ten lays claim to quite possibly the greatest rivalry in all of sports, between Ohio State and Michigan. No series has produced more colorful figures and memorable moments. The league also features exciting annual matchups like Michigan-Michigan State, Penn State-Ohio State and Minnesota-Wisconsin. At stake are coveted items like a bronzed pig, a giant ax, a brown jug and an ancient bucket.
Regent Street and the Beaver Stadium grounds -- They are two of the nation's prime tailgating spots, and they both belong to the Big Ten. Tailgating at Wisconsin or Penn State is an experience every college football fan should enjoy. You get beer and brats in Madison, and elaborate set-ups and daylong debauchery in State College. As a college football fan, you can't go wrong at either place.
Legendary coaches -- The Big Ten has produced legendary coaches through the decades. From Fielding Yost and Bob Zuppke to Bernie Bierman and Fritz Crisler to Woody and Bo to Hayden Fry and Duffy Daugherty to Barry Alvarez and Jim Tressel, the Big Ten has been at the top of the coaching ranks. The arrival of Penn State's Joe Paterno in 1993 has only added to the league's rich coaching tradition.
Night games in Columbus, Madison and State College -- Noon kickoffs are generally the norm in the Big Ten, which sort of blows but makes the rare night game all the more special. Ohio State will host only the ninth night game in team history this fall against USC, and the atmosphere will undoubtedly be electric. Same goes for any game under the lights at Camp Randall Stadium -- there were two last year -- and at Penn State, which thankfully welcomes night football more than any other Big Ten team.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
I'm putting a bow on the Big Ten's Mount Rushmore series with the league-wide version. Before getting to the final four choices, here are the links to each football team's Rushmore.
- Michigan State
- Ohio State
- Penn State
In many ways, the Big Ten's Rushmore was the easiest list to compile. The league has so much history that it's really hard to go wrong. At least that's what I'm telling myself before I see your e-mails.
You can quibble all you want about guys like Bronko Nagurski, Red Grange, Nile Kinnick, Fielding Yost, Archie Griffin and Dick Butkus, but all those guys are legends in this league. And trust me, there were a few very tough choices here.
I wanted to find a mix of players and coaches that truly represented the Big Ten's rich history, so I tended to look more at players and coaches from the distant past. I also wanted to have representatives from four different schools, even though Michigan and Ohio State had multiple candidates for selection. I realize that might not be the popular approach, but I think it's good to get a broad representation of the league.
You won't find any Penn State players or coaches on the list, but that's solely because the football team fully joined the league only 16 years ago.
OK, enough babbling. The envelope, please ...
Ohio State coach Woody Hayes -- A Big Ten and college football icon, Hayes won five national titles and 13 league championships in 28 years at Ohio State. His battles against archrival Michigan and Bo Schembechler in the "Ten Year War" will always remain a huge part of the sport's fabric. Hayes won more Big Ten games (152) than any other coach.
Michigan coach Bo Schembechler -- If Woody's on Mount Rushmore, Bo should be, too. I'll tell the engraver to put them at opposite ends of the mountain. Schembechler coached Michigan to 13 Big Ten titles and ranks second to Hayes in all-time conference victories (143). He won 194 games at Michigan and later served as the school's athletic director. Though Fielding Yost made a greater impact on the national stage with six championships, Schembechler has a deeper connection to the Big Ten.
Illinois halfback Red Grange -- ESPN's pick as the greatest player in college football history certainly deserves a spot in this esteemed group. Grange put the Big Ten and college football on the sporting map with a dominant career in the early 1920s. He was the first recipient of the Big Ten MVP award and earned All-America honors in each of his three seasons at Illinois.
Minnesota fullback and defensive lineman Bronko Nagurski -- Considered one of the greatest football players of all-time, Nagurski was the first player to earn consensus All-America honors at two different positions in the same year. He helped build Minnesota into a national powerhouse and has his name on the trophy given annually to college football's top defensive player. He was a charter member of both the college and pro football Halls of Fame.
Others considered for the Big Ten's Rushmore: Fielding Yost, Archie Griffin, Nile Kinnick, Duffy Daugherty, Dick Butkus, Charles Woodson, Hayden Fry, Joe Paterno, Bubba Smith and Barry Alvarez.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Some Rushmore leftovers and the like.
Aaron from Iowa City, Iowa, writes: Hey Adam, what are your thoughts of the new tiebreaker rules? I personally don't like anything that puts more power into the voter's hands, so I am completely against them adding the BCS standings. I also liked teams being eliminated for playing an FCS team. It credits teams like Michigan State who didn't just take the easy way out and only play 11 real games in a season
Adam Rittenberg: It certainly could be a dangerous move by the Big Ten, Aaron, especially considering what happened to the Big 12 last season. But with only one division, a history of getting multiple teams to BCS games and the built-in annual rivalries like Michigan-Ohio State and Penn State-Ohio State, I don't see the BCS standings tiebreaker coming into play too much (I hope). In most seasons, two Big Ten teams with a shot for the national title game will face one another.
I definitely agree with getting rid of the old "last team to the Rose Bowl doesn't get to go" rule, and I think the BCS standings would only be used in rare cases. Now, if the Big Ten adds a team and goes to two divisions -- again, very unlikely -- any time soon, then the tiebreaker rules need to be reexamined. As far as the FCS rule, there are too many Big Ten teams that want home games at all costs, so they're going to continue to schedule FCS opponents with no return game. It's just a fact of the business when you have huge stadiums like the ones in the Big Ten. No one wants to go on the road, and the league isn't going to stand in the way.
Paul from Johnstown, Pa., writes: Adam, Let me be the first to say, I loathe the Wolverines...but even I have to give it up for one man you totally dissed on the Michigan Rushmore...no Gerald Ford? All he did was help win 2 national titles, earn team MVP honors, and HAVE HIS JERSEY RETIRED!! Also, I may have forgot to mention that he was the leader of the free world. You don't even have him on the short-list. For goodness sakes, isn't the real Rushmore made up of former presidents?
Adam Rittenberg: Paul, you've got to read the fine print. President Ford was considered for Michigan's Rushmore, but the team had four stronger candidates. I don't know how you can have Michigan's Rushmore without Bo Schembechler, Fielding Yost and Tom Harmon. And Charles Woodson was arguably the best defensive player in college football in the last 25 years. Look at some of the other guys who didn't make Michigan's list -- Bennie Oosterbaan, AC (Anthony Carter), Fritz Crisler. You can make a case for Ford no doubt, but I can make a stronger one for the guys I included.
Zach from Chicago writes: Hey Adam, I know there are some questions at Illinois for this upcoming season but it seems like noone is even giving them a chance this year. With Juice, Benn, Jenkins, Dufrene, Ford, Hoomanawanui all returning on offense and the addition of Terry Hawthorne, I see this as being not only the most potent offense in the Big Ten, but one of the better offenses in the country, even with Locksley gone. Mike Schultz did an excellent job down at TCU. I think even if the Illini defense is not that great, they will have the ability to win a lot of games simply by putting up a lot of points on the board. They kind of remind me of a big 12 south team this year. I just wanted to get your opinion on their chances.
Adam Rittenberg: If Illinois fills some holes and gets better on the offensive line, there's no reason why it can't be among the nation's top offenses in 2009. A new coordinator could bring some growing pains, but Juice Williams was terrific the first half of last season and returns almost all of his weapons. I would still like for a featured back to emerge -- either Jason Ford or Daniel Dufrene -- and stabilize the run game outside of Juice. But there's no reason to think Illinois can't average 32-plus points and 430-plus yards of offense per game in 2009.
My biggest concerns with the Illini are defense and team chemistry. This clearly was a bit of a fractured team in 2008 to underachieve as badly as it did. And I would be extremely hesitant to buy into the philosophy that Illinois should simply outscore its opponents. The talent is there on defense, but the coaches need to get more out of that group this fall.