The Michigan Daily football writers break down the weekend's stats that don't show up in the boxscore. The defense-o-meter measures the intensity of the defense, the Carr-o-meter judges Lloyd Carr's demeanor following the game and the hypemeter measures the fans' game performance.
Defense-o-meter: 3/4 Crables
BY DANIEL BROMWICH: DAILY SPORTS EDITOR
His teammates said he would play. Defensive end Tim Jamison basically guaranteed it, and captain Jake Long said he had "no doubt." Michigan coach Lloyd Carr was more evasive, but no more than usual concerning injuries.
So Wolverine fans, by and large, expected their Heisman Trophy candidate to take the field Saturday against Illinois.
The Michigan Daily Top 10 returns for its fourth installment in this young season. Each week, Daily Sports staffers will fill out ballots, with first place votes receiving 10 points, second-place votes receiving nine and so on. The results are published with first-place votes in parentheses.
1. Louisiana State (5): Maybe they didn't get more first-place votes, but a solid showing on nearly every ballot was enough to vault the Tigers to the top. Apparently, it's easier to top our rankings than to beat Auburn.
BY DANIEL BROMWICH: DAILY SPORTS EDITOR
When reporters asked Michigan coach Lloyd Carr at Monday's press conference what he thought about Illinois football's recent resurgence, he deferred.
"You'll have to ask (Illinois) coach (Ron) Zook that," Carr said.
Carr's response made sense.
Recently, Zook seems to have all the answers.
In 2005, he took over a program that hadn't finished with a winning season since 2001. Illinois had struggled with recruiting under previous coach Ron Turner, who had led his team to 0-8 and 1-7 Big Ten records in 2003 and 2004, respectively.
Before every football game this season, two of the Daily's football writers will take the weekend's matchup to the PlayStation 2 and then let you know what happened.
BY SCOTT BELL AND JACK HERMAN
Entering the season, this game looked like a laugher. Illinois won just two games each of the last two seasons, and it hasn't won more than five games since 2001. But the Illini's growth under Ron Zook has escalated this season, and they're a viable Big Ten threat. Can Illinois end Michigan's five-game winning streak under the lights Saturday night? Here's our breakdown.
Michigan rush offense vs. Illinois rush defense
BY KEVIN WRIGHT
The seniors already saw this script.
Two years ago, the Wolverines faltered to a 7-5 record, finishing the season by blowing a lead to underdog Nebraska in the Alamo Bowl.
That team forgot how to win, and this year's seniors didn't want to let that happen again, especially after a 0-2 start.
So they called a team meeting the Sunday after the Oregon loss.
"We just want to make sure that people weren't going to buckle," senior captain Jake Long said. "We wanted to make sure everybody still was buying in, wanted to come to practice, wanted to play."
BY H. JOSE BOSCH
The parity bug has bitten college football. This is the fewest number of weeks it has ever taken for every preseason top-10 team to lose at least one game.
All these upsets have made for compelling television, but it has also made it hard to make picks. Now picking national games is more dangerous than standing between Kansas coach Mark Mangino and a batch of cookies.
For better or worse, these three weeks have had everybody scratching their heads, and this week will be no different.
No. 2 South Florida at Rutgers, tonight, 7:30 p.m. - ESPN/ESPN 360
BY JACK HERMAN
After Michigan lost to Appalachian State to open its season, Associated Press voters added insult to insult when they dropped the fifth-ranked Wolverines from the top 25 rankings.
It marked the first time since an Oct. 15, 2005 loss to Minnesota that dropped the Wolverines' record to 3-3 Michigan sat unranked. No team had ever fallen further.
But one embarrassing loss and five straight redeeming wins later, and Michigan has inched its way back into the rankings. The Wolverines ranked 24th in the poll released this weekend.