Minnesota freshman QB a ‘running man’

Michigan coach Lloyd Carr walks off the field after a 34-31 loss against Michigan State in East Lansing, Mich., on Oct. 9, 1999. Erica Magda

By Rusty Miller

The Michigan-Michigan State rivalry, celebrating its 100th game, won’t be the same this year, says former Spartans coach George Perles.

The reason is that former Wolverines coach Bo Schembechler died last November at age 77.

“In this rivalry, what changes is that Bo’s gone,” Perles said this week in anticipation of Saturday’s game at Spartan Stadium. “He was a good friend.”

Part of what makes the in-state showdown special is enjoying the game with rivals who have become friends over the years, Perles said.

That was definitely Schembechler, whom Perles knew long before he became head coach at Michigan State before the 1983 season. Perles often watched Michigan practices while he was an assistant with the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers, scouting for draft picks in the 1970s.

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When he arrived in East Lansing, Perles said there was mutual respect between the two programs’ coaching staffs. And his friendship with Schembechler stood the test of time. Schembechler attended Perles’ annual golf outing for the Special Olympics just a few months before he died.

Perles, now a trustee at Michigan State, had a 4-8 record against Michigan. He was the Spartans coach from 1983-94.

Brutus as art

Chicago did a similar art project with cows, Cincinnati with pigs, Cleveland with guitars.

To raise money for renovation of Ohio State’s library, as many as 250 Brutus Buckeye statues will be commissioned and placed around Columbus. Artists will personalize each of the 7-foot tall Fiberglas statues, which will then be put on street corners, parks and buildings in Ohio’s capital next year.

Sponsoring one mascot will cost $10,000 to $20,000, with $2,000 going to the artist/designer who modifies it.

Three prototypes were on display at the announcement on Wednesday: coaching icon Woody Hayes, current Ohio State President Gordon Gee and Christopher Columbus, all as the goofy-looking, bigheaded mascot.

Running man

Minnesota freshman QB Adam Weber has had an up-and-down season learning a complicated spread offense in his first year facing Big Ten competition.

But Weber has given the Gophers an extra dimension with his ability to run the ball – either while scrambling or on designed option plays.

On 111 attempts, Weber has 430 yards and four TDs rushing. He’s also taken his share of hard hits, and he’s never been seen sliding to avoid contact, either.

Weber said he watches other quarterbacks on TV and wonders why they do that. He argued that a runner is more likely to be injured when he lets up and doesn’t go full speed. It’s clear the contact is a part of the game he fully welcomes.

“Quarterbacks are football players, too,” Weber said. “When you run into the defense, they’ve got to bring it, too.”

Questioning fans

When Ohio State played at Purdue on Oct. 6, thousands of seats were occupied by Buckeyes fans festooned in scarlet and gray. Looking at the stands, it was hard to tell which team was at home.

Fast forward to Saturday night when about 110,000 packed into Beaver Stadium for Penn State’s game against the top-ranked Buckeyes.

Purdue coach Joe Tiller said the game at Happy Valley led one to question the devotion of Purdue’s fans – and whether they sold their tickets to Ohio State followers.

“They are extremely loyal to their team,” Tiller said of the Penn State fans. “There wasn’t much red in that stadium, and just as many people went there as came here. There were just as many people walking around with those hundred-dollar bills out there, and nobody was selling.”

Friendly confines

Big Ten teams are 19-10 at home in conference games, a winning percentage of .655. That’s the best mark since 2000, when home teams went 30-14 (.682).

Ohio State has won 13 Big Ten home games in a row. Wisconsin has won its last seven. They meet on Saturday at Ohio Stadium.

By the way, the Buckeyes’ 19-game Big Ten winning streak – home or away – matches the record set by Michigan from 1990-1992. Ohio State had won 17 in a row three times before going on its current tear.

Countdown continues

In case you were wondering, only 10 days remain until Minnesota and Iowa play for the bronze pig known as Floyd of Rosedale.

Quick hitters

The rest of Saturday’s schedule finds Iowa at Northwestern, Purdue at Penn State, Illinois at Minnesota and in a non-league tilt, Ball State at Indiana. … Players of the week: Ohio State QB Todd Boeckman on offense, Wisconsin LB DeAndre Levy on defense, Iowa P Ryan Donahue on special teams. … No. 1 Ohio State plays three good teams yet (Wisconsin, Illinois, at Michigan), but is the only team in the top five in the conference that plays two of its last three games at home. … It wouldn’t take any mammoth upsets for 10 of the conference’s 11 teams to finish with winning records, and for all 10 to be bowl eligible.

AP writers Tim Martin, Cliff Brunt and David Mercer contributed to this report.