|Michigan's Big Ten home opener streak is in peril|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 22 September 2008 14:47|
That streak seems to be in jeopardy.
The Wolverines (1-2) host the ninth-ranked Wisconsin Badgers (3-0) and are underdogs by almost a touchdown following off weeks for both teams.
Even though Michigan is off to a rough start in Rich Rodriguez's debut season, he is looking forward to seeing how his team competes with a clean slate in the conference.
``It starts off 0-0,'' he said Monday. ``I'm anxious to see how we compete against this football team.''
Defensive tackle Terrance Taylor is also excited to find out how he and his teammates bounce back after losing 35-17 at Notre Dame.
``If we're not dwelling on that game anymore, we'll improve our chances,'' Taylor said. ``If we didn't let that go or are still thinking about losing to Utah at home, it's going to hurt us because Wisconsin is really good.''
``There's no weaknesses,'' Rodriguez said after evaluating the Badgers on film. ``It's a big, physical team. A typical Wisconsin team. They're going to run the ball right at you.
``I've been watching more of their defense, a very physical, active defense. Their front is outstanding. Their safeties make plays, their linebackers are active. There's no question they're one of the better teams in the country.''
College football's winningest program is far removed from The Associated Press poll, entering the season unranked for the first time since 1985, but Rodriguez is trying to keep the Wolverines focused on winning the Big Ten title.
``There is a little extra hope and a little extra bounce in our step getting excited for it because nobody has played a Big Ten game yet,'' Rodriguez said. ``As frustrated as we've been with some of the early games, you kind of start fresh here with Big Ten conference play.''
The Wolverines' depleted offensive line might have left tackle Mark Ortmann back from an elbow injury, but may lose left tackle Perry Dorrestein after he hurt his knee during a bye-week practice.
Rodriguez was hoping freshman receiver Terrence Robinson (knee) would be healthy enough to play, but he can't practice at full speed yet.
underneath them,'' Rodriguez said.
Besides resting banged-up players, Michigan worked to improve the many problems it had in all three phases during each of the first three games.
``We had an opportunity last week in particular to work on fundamentals,'' Rodriguez said. ``There's so many young guys playing, sometimes they can get information overload.
``We have a lot of things we've still got to work on. There's still going to be a lot of growing pains, but I was encouraged by the mentality that they had last week.''