|Michigan trio of Hart, Henne and Long can end skid against Florida|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 01 January 2008 01:36|
That's all Mike Hart, Chad Henne and Jake Long have to avoid another blemish, which would linger with them for the rest of their lives.
Michigan's senior stars can't do anything about their winless careers against Ohio State, but they have one final chance to end their bowl-game skid.
It won't be easy.
No. 9 Florida is a double-digit favorite to win the Capital One Bowl on Tuesday, essentially at home, against the Wolverines.
If Michigan can pull off an upset in coach Lloyd Carr's finale on the sideline, it would be even sweeter - especially for the trio on offense.
Hart and Henne have broken virtually every school record for running backs and quarterbacks at college football's winningest school. Long has been so dominant as an offensive tackle that he's arguably one of the school's all-time best regardless of position.
But an 0-8 record against the Buckeyes and bowl opponents would diminish their legacy in a program that prides itself on Bo Schembechler's mantra: the team, the team, the team.
Is that fair?
Hart and Long both acknowledged it was before the season started, while Henne has insisted how they fared against their rival or in the postseason should not make or break their legacy.
The reality is, right or wrong, if they're winless in their biggest games people will say, ``Yeah, but...'' and will point out that fact when sports fans in the future are arguing about who were Michigan's best running back, quarterback and offensive linemen.
A win over the Gators gives Hart, Henne and Long a better chance to stack up accomplishments with the top Wolverines ever.
Hart became Michigan's career rushing leader this season and broke a record with eight straight 100-yard rushing games before a high-ankle sprain slowed his season. The team MVP ran for 1,232 yards, giving him 4,911 in his career to lead all active players and trail just three in Big Ten history.
Perhaps Hart's most incredible feat was extending his streak without losing a fumble to 993 carries, dating to his first conference game as a freshman.
Henne moved to the top of the Wolverines' all-time list for touchdown passes (84), completions (803) and yards (9,342) during his injury-plagued season. He is 21 attempts away from another school record. And with his first snap, he'll tie Rick Leach's school mark of 47 starts by a quarterback.
While his record against Ohio State and in bowls can be questioned, his toughness cannot.
Henne injured his right knee in the second game of the season, leading to him miss 2 1/2 games. The All-Big Ten quarterback later led the Wolverines to a win at Illinois - the Illini's only conference loss - despite playing with a separated shoulder.
Long's career has simply been as spectacular as it could have been at a position that does not attract much attention. Like referees, offensive linemen are usually only noticed if they make mistakes. That's why Long has been out of the spotlight.
Long gave up only on sack this season and two in the past 25 games, helping Henne set records. He routinely blocked defensive linemen and linebackers 10-plus yards down the field, enabling Hart to run to his left through canyon-like holes.
The two-time All-American is the first offensive linemen to be recognized as the Big Ten's best twice since Ohio State's Orlando Pace more than a decade ago.
Even though Hart, Henne and Long are judged by what they do in games, they do deserve credit for leaving Michigan with diplomas and without a public brush with the law or school officials.
They want more than that, though, and are hours away from their last chance to walk off a college field as winners.