Zennie62 on YouTube

Monday, December 18, 2006

Michigan Wants To Make A Statement In Rose Bowl

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) -- Chad Henne stood in front of a roomful of reporters Thursday, speaking of the opportunity Michigan has to prove it's one of the nation's top college football teams.

Henne and his teammates also want to show that the Wolverines, who ended the last three seasons with bowl losses, know how to finish strong and can overcome having their national title hopes dashed.

All Michigan has to do is beat Southern California in the Rose Bowl.

Beating the Trojans will go a long way toward erasing the disappointment of their 42-39 loss to No. 1 Ohio State and that Florida -- not the No. 3 Wolverines -- will face the Buckeyes for the BCS title.

"We want to finish off on the right note," the Michigan quarterback said. "The last two seasons, we didn't finish."

The fourth-ranked Trojans also enter the New Year's Day test with plenty to prove after taking themselves out of the national championship picture with a loss to UCLA in their last regular-season game.

Each team believes it could have been playing for a championship and has plenty of motivation going into a Rose Bowl that could establish which is the top-ranked team next preseason.

"It's definitely like a national championship game at the Rose Bowl," Michigan senior defensive end LaMarr Woodley said. "You have two teams that had a chance to play for a national championship and we both got bad breaks."

With a win in Pasadena, the Wolverines would become only the second team in school history to finish a season with 12 wins. Michigan capped its 1997 national championship season with its 12th victory in the Rose Bowl against Washington State.

But in addition to etching its name in the school record books, a win would also provide the Wolverines' first postseason win since 2002, when Michigan knocked off Florida in the Outback Bowl.

Since then, the Wolverines have lost twice in the Rose Bowl to USC and Texas before finishing off last year's disappointing 7-5 campaign with a loss to Nebraska in the Alamo Bowl.

"We want to prove we can finish our year," said Michigan offensive tackle Jake Long, who announced Thursday that he will return for his senior year. "In past seasons, we haven't been able to win the bowl game, and we want to come out and prove that we're a great team and prove that we can play with the best and win, and that we can finish a season strong."

Michigan players said a win over USC would also lay the groundwork for 2007, which has the makings of another strong year. Besides Long and Henne, who also said he will be back, the Wolverines return a lot of talent on both sides of the ball.

The only major question mark for next season is junior defensive tackle Allen Branch, who has not announced his intentions. Tailback Mike Hart, who has said he is almost certain he will return, said he hasn't been able to gauge which way Branch is leaning.

"We talk, but I don't know if he even knows what he's doing," Hart said Thursday. "I hope he's coming back. I'm anxious to see, too. But he keeps giving me the 'I don't know."'

What Hart does know is that facing USC in the Rose Bowl is an opportunity to prove that this Michigan team is among the country's elite.

"We've got to win this game," he said. "You don't want to end a great year like we've had with a loss -- that would kind of put the season down. So that should be enough motivation right there."


Visit the new Zennie62.com

Google Analytics Alternative