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November 2, 2013

U-M fails to find end zone in loss at MSU

With 9:49 left in a tight fourth quarter, Denard Robinson hit Roy Roundtree on a seam route, and the receiver slipped past a tackle to race 34 yards for a touchdown.

That was 2011. In the 129 minutes and 49 seconds the Wolverines have spent battling the Spartans since then, no player in maize and blue has felt the joy and excitement of hanging six points on their intrastate rival. Michigan has run 135 consecutive offensive snaps in the Battle For The Paul Bunyan Trophy without reaching the end zone.

Michigan followed that 28-14 loss in 2011 with a 12-10 squeaker of a win in Ann Arbor last year, with every point coming from the legs of field goal kickers Brendan Gibbons and Matt Wile.

In Saturday's 29-6 beatdown at the hands of the Spartans, the offense started somewhat fast but quickly nose-dived, thanks to seven Michigan State sacks and negative-48 rushing yards, which set a new program record in rushing futility (negative-46 rushing yards vs. Minnesota in 1962).

Michigan's 12 offensive drives Saturday (not counting the final 22 seconds of the first half, which the Wolverines killed with a kneel down) finished up like this: Field goal, punt, punt, punt, punt, field goal, punt, punt, punt, punt, interception, turnover on downs.

That is certainly not a recipe for success.

The Wolverines drove 51 yards with relative ease, settling for a field goal, on the game's opening drive.

Over the next three and a half quarters, though, Michigan gained just 117 yards and nine first downs, averaging a dismal 2.3 yards per snap.

"I don't know if they changed anything. I don't know if we changed anything [after the first drive]," fifth-year senior left tackle Taylor Lewan said. "We've just got to compete, on every single down. It's that extra half-second. There were a couple of runs that Fitz really could have broken out. We have to straighten out just that much more on runs."

In the second half, the Wolverines gained just 58 total offensive yards, posting nearly as many three-and-out drives (four) as first downs (five).

"We've just got to compete better," Lewan said. "That's really what it comes down to. We've got to compete and understand that every block could be the block, every run could be the run, every pass, every catch - what are you going to do that one play?

"There are six or seven plays during a game that can win or lose you a championship."

There have been a few too many recent games in which the Michigan offense has not made those key plays.

In the last two years, Michigan has failed to score a touchdown in four contests: Saturday's 29-6 loss at Michigan State; the 12-10 win vs. the Spartans; a 23-9 loss at Nebraska in 2012; and a 13-6 loss at Notre Dame last year.

The Michigan statistical archives go back to the 1949 season. Since then, there have been just three other instances in which the Wolverines posted four or more games without a touchdown in a two-year stretch: five games between 1962-63; five games between 1961-62; six games between 1950-51.

Comparatively, the Wolverines failed to score a touchdown in just five total games from 1986-2011 and just once between 1970-1980.
Since 1949, Michigan has been held out of the end zone in 36 games, with a 3-32-1 record in those games (see chart).

This is not new territory of the Spartans. Since beating Indiana 42-28 Oct. 12, Michigan State has not surrendered a touchdown in 12 consecutive quarters, beating Purdue 14-0, Illinois 42-3 and Michigan 29-6. The Spartans also held South Florida out of the end zone in a 21-6 victory on the second weekend of the season.

Michigan Games Without Scoring A Touchdown, Modern Era
Season
Result
Score
2013
Loss
Michigan State 29, Michigan 6
2012
Loss
Nebraska 23, Michigan 9
2012
Win
Michigan 12, Michigan State 10
2012
Loss
Notre Dame 13, Michigan 6
2007
Loss
Ohio State 14, Michigan 3
2002
Loss
Ohio State 14, Michigan 9
1996
Loss
Purdue 9, Michigan 3
1995
Win
Michigan 5, Purdue 0
1994
Loss
Ohio State 22, Michigan 6
1985
Tie
Michigan 3, Illinois 3
1984
Loss
Iowa 26, Michigan 0
1984
Loss
Ohio State 21, Michigan 6
1983
Loss
Illinois 16, Michigan 6
1981
Loss
Ohio State 14, Michigan 9
1977
Loss
Minnesota 16, Michigan 0
1969
Loss
USC 10, Michigan 3
1967
Loss
Cal 10, Michigan 9
1967
Loss
Michigan State 34, Michigan 0
1963
Loss
Minnesota 6, Michigan 0
1962
Loss
Michigan State 28, Michigan 0
1962
Loss
Purdue 37, Michigan 0
1962
Loss
Minnesota 17, Michigan 0
1962
Loss
Ohio State 28, Michigan 0
1961
Loss
Michigan State 28, Michigan 0
1960
Loss
Minnesota 10, Michigan 0
1960
Loss
Ohio State 7, Michigan 0
1956
Loss
Michigan State 9, Michigan 0
1955
Loss
Ohio State 17, Michigan 0
1953
Loss
Minnesota 22, Michigan 0
1953
Loss
Illinois 19, Michigan 3
1951
Loss
Michigan State 25, Michigan 0
1951
Loss
Illinois 7, Michigan 0
1951
Loss
Northwestern 6, Michigan 0
1950
Loss
Army 27, Michigan 6
1950
Loss
Illinois 7, Michigan 0
1950
Win
Michigan 9, Ohio State 3



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