Washington, Michigan Set for Marquee Game
By LARRY LAGE
AP Sports Writer
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) - Michigan defensive end Larry Stevens has waited allsummer for Saturday's rematch with Washington.
Stevens, from Tacoma, Wash., endured merciless ribbing back home after theHuskies rallied in the fourth quarter to defeat the Wolverines 23-18 lastseason. Washington scored two touchdowns off a blocked field goal andinterception return in the dramatic comeback.
No. 13 Michigan hopes to avoid the same outcome when No. 11 Washingtonvisits Michigan Stadium in the season opener for both teams.
'It bothered me and hurt me the way we lost to them last year because Igrew up with a lot of those guys,' Stevens said. 'I didn't leave that stateto lose to them. It's a little more personal for me.'
Coaches and players from both schools are excited about the marquee game.
'You know that you're playing in a football game that everyone in thenation who loves college football is going to be watching,' Michigan coachLloyd Carr said. 'So I like it.'
Both teams hope to start the season better than the way they ended. TheHuskies lost three of their last four games after beginning 7-1. Washingtongave up 112 points in its last two games against Miami and Texas.
The Wolverines were 6-1, then finished the season 2-3. They lost the lasttwo games of the season for the first time since 1984. Michigan was embarrassedin the Citrus Bowl, losing 45-17 to Tennessee, after Ohio State's first-yearcoach Jim Tressel backed up bold predictions with a win in Michigan Stadium.
'The team that wins the game is going to take away tremendous momentum tostart the season off,' Michigan tight end Bennie Joppru said. 'You can't getthat from anywhere else except from a big win. I think it's difficult, but Iwouldn't have it any other way.'
There will be several intriguing matchups Saturday.
Washington receiver Reggie Williams, who set Pac-10 freshman records lastseason, goes against cornerback Marlin Jackson, whom Carr has compared toCharles Woodson.
The Wolverines led the nation with 50 sacks last season and face a testagainst mobile and productive quarterback Cody Pickett.
One of the biggest questions for Michigan is the development of quarterbackJohn Navarre under a new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Navarrestruggled in his last six games, throwing 10 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
Washington coach Rick Neuheisel is excited for the big game to start theseason.
'Anytime you're playing a program of that caliber, your competitive juicesget flowing all the more quickly because you know that it is a memory maker,'he said. 'Those are the kind of games regardless of the outcome you're goingto remember for a lifetime.'