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September 17, 2013A week ago, with Connecticut's most-wanted man - former coach Randy Edsall - bringing his Maryland team to Storrs, the Huskies drew an announced crowd of 38,916, falling shy of the 40,000-seat capacity. On Saturday, Michigan stands to play in front of a crowd in the 30,000s for the first time since 2004.
U-M fans were hoping this game would be moved to MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., the home of the New York Giants and Jets, with a capacity of 82,566. The strong New York alumni contingent would have flocked to the game in droves while fans from out of town would indulge in a weekend in the Big Apple.
Fearing a move would have invited a crowd clad in maize and blue that outnumbered the Huskies' supporters, UConn kept the game where it was scheduled, but according to its official Web site is still selling single-game tickets, hopeful the attendance will reach capacity.
Whether Rentschler field is sold out or not, matters little - the Wolverines will still play in front of their smallest crowd since a mere 35,001 patrons clicked through the turnstiles at Alumni Field for U-M's 2004 matchup at Indiana. The Hoosiers filled their stadium to only 67.1 percent capacity on that day.
The smallest crowd Michigan has played in front of during the past two decades, however, came when the Wolverines left the continental United States to play Hawaii. Aloha Stadium seats 50,000 but the (Rainbow) Warriors only filled 34,193 seats (68.4 percent capacity). That didn't stop U-M from spanking Hawaii, though, 48-17.
Purdue (four times), Northwestern (five) and Indiana (four) have consistently represented the smallest crowds to attend Michigan games over the last 20 years while Boston College has actually featured the lowest-capacity stadium, seating only 44,500. However, the Golden Eagles sold out their game in 1995.
In each of the past two meetings in West Lafayette, Michigan has actually played in front of at least 80.0 percent capacity, but that wasn't always the case. In 1996, Boilermaker fans filled Ross-Ade Stadium to just 59.9 percent of its total allotment.