The Final Score? Writers Offer Best Guesses
The following scores are predicted by writers for the Spokesman-Review in today’s Rose Bowl:
Michigan 27, Washington State 21
WSU’s potent offense vs. Michigan’s incredible defense, WSU’s serviceable defense vs. Michigan’s efficient offense. It’s either WSU 37-31, Michigan 13-10, or somewhere in between (see above). Botttom line is WSU will score, but line will have trouble giving Ryan Leaf enough time.
WSU 34, Michigan 31
Three questions: 1. Can Michigan get pressure on Ryan Leaf without blitzing? 2. Can WSU keep Michigan from breaking a punt or kickoff return? 3. If this thing goes into OT, will Michigan’s curfew be extended?
Michigan 27, WSU 21
WSU is going to have trouble protecting Ryan Leaf. The game is probably going to be decided on a big play by Charles Woodson.
WSU 36, Michigan 35
Remember the Arizona State game? Yeah, the Cougars lost - but the Sun Devils couldn’t get far enough ahead to keep the Cougars from cathcing up. This time, the line picks up the blitz and Ryan Leaf finds Chris Jackson for the winning touchdown.
WSU 31, Michigan 28
Washington State’s defensive front four will be the key. They need to slip the first block and fill the running lanes, take pressure off the Cougars’ undersized linebackers and force Michigan to throw. On offense, the Cougars’ wide receivers can’t let the Wolverines jam them at the line of scrimmage. Ryan Leaf will need early targets to counter Michigan’s blitzes.
Dave Boling/Tacoma News Tribune
WSU 42, Michigan 38 If WSU’s front five can beat Michigan’s front four, Ryan Leaf can outscore the Wolverines.
Dick Rockne/Seattle Times
WSU 35, Michigan 21
Ryan Leaf will have enough time to throw, allowing him to team up with the Fab Five for what some would perceive as a huge upset.
Keith Gave/Detroit Free Press
Michigan 31, WSU 17
The Michigan defense will be unlike anything Washington State has seen all year. Just ask Colorado. And the Wolverines have a very underrated offense. It’s not a big-play offense, but it’s a very efficient offense and it can win a lot of different ways.
Andrew Bagnato/Chicago Tribune
Michigan 27, WSU 24
The stakes were already plenty high before Wolverine cornerback Charles Woodson became the first defensive player to win the Heisman Trophy. Maize and Blue fans have been waiting almost 50 years for a national title. The Wolverines will only deliver it if they can keep Cougar quarterback Ryan Leaf under wraps.
Bill Campbell/Dallas Morning News
Michigan 35, WSU 14
Let’s see. ABC has the Rose Bowl, Michigan is ranked No. 1 in both polls (though it would be a six-point underdog to Nebraska on a neutral field) and produces the Heisman winner, though Peyton Manning is one of the best quarterbacks in the game’s history. No wonder Nebraska fans are trying to reassemble the Warren Commission.
Richard Rosenblatt/Associated Press
Michigan 27, WSU 21
The pressure’s on Michigan. In particular, Heisman Trophy winning cornerback Charles Woodson, the first primarily defensive player to win the award. “They’ve got a great passing attack, one we haven’t seen all season,” Woodson said. But the game could boil down to this: the Cougars’ defense (25 points and 330 years per game) vs. the Wolverines’ offense (27.4 points and 388.4 yards per game).