Saturday, November 22, 2003

Carr, Navarre feel heat with streak at two losses

Ohio State notebook

By Neil Schmidt
The Cincinnati Enquirer

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Lloyd Carr and his quarterback, John Navarre, won't speak of it. So let Bo Schembechler address the pressure on the Wolverines.

"It would be hard for any Michigan team to take three straight losses to Ohio State. Very hard," the former Michigan coach said.

This team doesn't want to go down as the first in 40 years to lose three straight to the Buckeyes, and fifth-year seniors like Navarre don't want to depart without a single Big Ten crown or Rose Bowl berth.

So Carr was brusque this week in discussing the past two losses to OSU. Even though the coach has a 5-3 mark in the series, folks are on edge here. Detroit News columnist Terry Foster wrote that with a loss today, "Carr would officially become John Cooper."

"Lloyd's a pretty uptight guy," Schembechler said. "But I think everybody is feeling the pressure."

Navarre is the school's career passing leader but is 0-2 against OSU, so his legacy probably rides on today's game.

"It probably does, and it's probably unfair," Michigan defensive lineman Grant Bowman said. "But a lot of things in life are unfair."

Said Navarre: "You can't focus on that when you're preparing for this game, but obviously how you do against Ohio State is a big part of any career here."

LUCKY BUCKS: Will Allen suggests a higher power has had a hand in OSU's clutch play, a 12-1 mark the past two years in games decided by seven or fewer points.

"God has been on our side," the senior safety said. "I wouldn't say it's luck or fortune."

Allen added that he thinks God is a Buckeyes fan.

OSU coach Jim Tressel doesn't mind criticism of his team's fortune.

"You know, I think we are lucky," he said. "That doesn't concern me that someone would say that."

WILDCAT TO WOLVERINE: Kevin Dudley, a graduate of Franklin County High in southeast Indiana, has claimed Michigan's starting fullback job as a redshirt junior. Dudley has caught three passes for 29 yards.

SWITCHING SIDES: Five of Michigan's starting front seven on defense hail from Ohio. In all, 13 players on the Wolverines' roster are from the Buckeye state.

OSU has only one Michigan native: quarterback Craig Krenzel.

TOUGH TRIP: OSU is 4-5-1 when taking a top-five ranking into Ann Arbor. It lost the last three such games, in 1993, '95 and '97.

Carr is 13-3 against top-10 teams, though two of those losses came against OSU.

UNDERWOOD HEALING: Sophomore cornerback E.J. Underwood should return in time for OSU's bowl game. The Hamilton High grad suffered a severed thumb tendon in September. Tressel said Underwood might resume practicing in early December.



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