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November 23, 2013

Road woes continue for the Maize and Blue

There are a few stats Michigan would probably like to forget and an uglier one surfaced Saturday - the Wolverines fell to 6-8 in true road games under third-year head coach Brady Hoke, including a 2-3 mark this season.

The Maize and Blue, simply, have not been a good road team in any of Hoke's three seasons, but this year, the numbers have been even more dramatic than in 2011 and in 2012. In six home contests, Michigan has averaged 437.0 yards of offense and 41.0 points per game, and is 5-1 this season, but in the five road games, U-M has averaged just 273.8 yards and 23.6 points.

On Saturday, the Wolverines had a season-low 158 yards of offense, and now three of their four worst offensive performances this fall have occurred away from the Big House - 168 yards at Michigan State and 289 yards at Connecticut (there was also a 175-yard effort at home against Nebraska).

"It wasn't what we want. We obviously have to play better," Hoke said, following the loss to Iowa.

Michigan's defense surrendered 407 yards of offense and 24 points to the Hawkeyes but has actually been fairly consistent whether playing at home or on the road. The Maize and Blue are allowing 360.7 yards per game in their own stadium and 343.8yards in visiting territory this year. On the scoreboard, the Wolverines have allowed 22.8 points per game at The Big House and 27.2 while on the road.

Over the course of three seasons now, the defense has actually held opponents to fewer yards on the road (318.2) than at home (327.1) but foes have scored more often in their own neighborhood (22.4 to 17.5).

Still, those are winnable numbers. Michigan is just 6-8 on the road because of a porous offense that has averaged only 296.3 yards and 22.7 points in road games under Hoke compared to 450.8 yards and 39.2 points in 20 contests at home.

With its loss Saturday, U-M has guaranteed back-to-back losing records on the road, a feat matched in 2008 (1-4) and 2009 (0-4) but one that had not occurred previously since the program went 1-2 in 1952 and 0-3 in 1953.

In fact, the Maize and Blue had just three seasons with a losing road record during the past 50 years -- 1-3 in 1984, then 2008 and 2009 -- until going 2-3 in 2012.

Michigan will now have three straight seasons with a non-winning record on the road for the first time since 1951-53; in 2010, the Wolverines went 3-2.

If there is any good news for U-M as it prepares for rival Ohio State a week from now, it is that the Buckeyes must come to Ann Arbor.

"The good thing is the sun's going to come up tomorrow, we're going to regroup and we've got one more opportunity for our seniors, in that stadium," Hoke said.


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