Wednesday, August 29, 2007

College Football

College Football is starting soon! I have to say it is one of my favorite times of the year. And hopefully Michigan will have a SUPER season!! I was checking out this afternoon and thought I would share the Michigan Appalachian St Preview that they had... LET'S GO BLUE!!

Mike Hart, Chad Henne and Jake Long each had the chance to skip their final collegiate seasons in favor of the NFL. They returned in hope of giving Michigan one of the best offenses in the country.

Led by their talented trio, the No. 5 Wolverines begin their quest for the school's first national title in 10 years when they open the season at home Saturday against Appalachian State, the two-time defending Division I-AA (now NCAA Football Championship Subdivision) champion.

Michigan finished 11-2 in 2006, but the Wolverines' season will be better remembered for the losses in their final two games. Michigan's national title hopes were dashed with a 42-39 defeat in their showdown with Ohio State, and the Wolverines then fell 32-18 to USC in the Rose Bowl.

The outlook for 2007 looked uncertain during the offseason, with the NFL an option for running back Hart, quarterback Henne and left tackle Long -- all of whom will be four-year starters. The three decided to stay, though, and their presence makes the Wolverines preseason favorites to win their first Big Ten championship since 2004.

"It's not fair to criticize a guy for leaving, but these three guys stayed," coach Lloyd Carr said. "I think it speaks volumes about them and what their values and goals are. We're excited to have them back."

Carr should be, after what they've accomplished for the Wolverines. The trio helped Michigan average 29.2 points per game in 2006.

The 5-foot-9, 196-pound Hart finished fifth in the Heisman Trophy voting last season after rushing for a career-high 1,562 yards and 14 touchdowns. He needs 794 yards to break Anthony Thomas' school record of 4,472 rushing yards.

Henne completed 61.9 percent of his passes for 2,508 yards, threw 22 touchdowns and had just eight interceptions for the second straight season. He has started 37 straight contests and needs three TD passes to break the school record of 72 set by John Navarre.

All-American Long, 6-7 and 313 pounds, is one of three returning starters on the offensive line.

"Defenses have to worry about Mike running the ball, about Chad passing the ball and Jake taking care of anybody who comes near him," said Adrian Arrington, who returns along with fellow wideout Mario Manningham to give Michigan a dangerous receiving tandem. The two combined to catch 17 touchdowns in 2006.

While the Wolverines offense appears to be in good shape, only four defensive starters -- led by All-Big Ten linebacker Shawn Crable and safety Jamar Adams -- return from last year's group that led the nation by allowing just 43.4 rushing yards per game.

Michigan will be trying to win its ninth straight season and home opener in its first meeting with Appalachian State. The Wolverines are 90-13-2 in season openers at home.

After finishing 14-1 and beating Massachusetts 28-17 for its second consecutive national championship, the Mountaineers are the likely favorite to win a third straight title. They'll be looking to extend their winning streak to 15 games.

That won't be easy for Appalachian State, which is 6-29-1 against Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A) teams and has lost seven straight to those schools.

"Opening our season against Michigan will be a great test to see what we're made of," Mountaineers All-American running back Kevin Richardson said. "I think it's a great opportunity for Appalachian to continue to get its name out as one of the top college football programs in the country."

Richardson rushed for 1,676 yards and a Division I-AA-record 30 touchdowns last season. He has 3,456 yards and 50 rushing TDs in his career.

Sophomore quarterback Armanti Edwards also returns after throwing for 2,251 yards and 15 touchdowns, while rushing for 1,153 yards and 15 TDs. Appalachian State averaged 35.2 points and 241.3 rushing yards a game last season.

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