Wolverines Issue of the Week: Michigan hasn't beaten a ranked road opponent in 6 years
ANN ARBOR -- Some might argue that Michigan's 2012 season-opener against Alabama in Arlington, Texas may as well have been a road game.
It wasn't, technically, but that really doesn't matter for this point.
The 18th-ranked Wolverines will play their first true road game of the season Saturday at No. 11 Notre Dame (7:30 p.m., NBC), and in doing so, Michigan will look to capture its first road win against a ranked opponent in six years.
Since knocking off then No. 2 Notre Dame on Sept. 16, 2006, the Wolverines have gone 0-7 against Top 25 teams in true road environments.
In 2011, Michigan put together a fine road performance at Illinois, but struggled early at Northwestern, had fits all day at Iowa and was physically dominated at Michigan State.
The 2012 team isn't without its own issue. Michigan is playing a ton of freshmen, rookies who have never been in any authentic college road environment -- let alone one like Notre Dame Stadium. The Wolverines are also struggling to control the line of scrimmage, and have had issues in the secondary.
Can Michigan figure it out on the road this week, and snap its away-from-home blues against ranked foes? We discuss.
Michigan is a sparkling 10-0 at home under coach Brady Hoke, but just 3-3 away from Ann Arbor. Its offense has been particularly troublesome, averaging just 23.3 points per game away from the Big House.
It averages 40.1 points at home.
A lot of those troubles are correlated to Denard Robinson, the team's most important player. He had four of his worst games last year against Michigan State, Iowa, Illinois and Virginia Tech -- each of which was played away from home. He also struggled this year in Dallas against Alabama.
Overall, he is 69-of-154 passing (44.8 percent) for eight touchdowns and nine interceptions away from Ann Arbor the past two years. He averages 47.3 rushing yards in those games, but 124.3 at home.
Sure, Michigan has played a little more difficult schedule away from home, which can account for some of the splits. My response would be: Notre Dame is pretty good, isn't it?
Kyle's numbers from 2011 basically say it all. Michigan's best player, Denard Robinson, hasn't shined away from Michigan Stadium of late.
The one place he has sparkled, though, is Notre Dame Stadium. Robinson's memorable 2010 South Bend performance featured 258 yards rushing, 244 yards passing and three combined touchdowns.
But what about all those freshmen? Alabama probably had more fans than Michigan in Texas, but that was far from a home-field-advantage for either team. Notre Dame fans have been tortured by Michigan over the past three seasons, and Saturday is their chance -- at night -- to exact some serious revenge.
The road often separates the average from the good and the good from the great. As a team -- and as individuals -- Michigan will start finding out where it lies Saturday.
Will the road be too much for Michigan's youthful squad? Can Denard Robinson recapture his 2010 magic, or will he struggle on the road the same way he did in 2011? Will the 0-7 losing skid against ranked road foes be snapped? Let us know what you think.