Wolverines Issue of the Week: Has Michigan finally solved its road-game blues?
ANN ARBOR -- Michigan's last appearance on the road was terrific.
At Purdue three weeks ago, the Wolverines thoroughly manhandled an overmatched Boilermaker squad in just about every phase of the game -- rolling to a 44-13 victory.
But, with no offense to the folks in West Lafayette, Ind., Ross-Ade Stadium is hardly an intimidating venue.
The last three times Michigan has faced raucous crowds for true road games -- it went home with a loss.
The Wolverines lost at Michigan State and Iowa last season, and turned the ball over six times at Notre Dame earlier this season.
Michigan will walk into another viper pit this Saturday, at night, when it travels to Nebraska's famed Memorial Stadium (8 p.m., ESPN2).
Will Michigan overcome its away-from-home blues once and for all?
Michigan moved to 12-0 at home under Brady Hoke with Saturday's win against Michigan State. That's nice.
Problem is, that means all four losses the past two years have come away from home, where Michigan is 4-4, including 1-2 this year.
Nebraska is one of the toughest places to play in the Big Ten. The Cornhuskers are unbeaten in four home games this season, quarterback Taylor Martinez hasn't thrown a pick in those games and the offense averages 48.5 points.
The difficulty factor rises a notch for this prime-time game. It'll be the most hostile environment Michigan has faced all year.
And it hasn't handled those settings well in the past, especially offensively. Michigan averages 38.2 points per game at home under Hoke, but just 23.8 on the road.
The Wolverines have struggled on the road the past two years, and this could be the most difficult environment yet. Hard to like that combination.
There have been two common threads with Michigan's two away-from-home losses this season: Horrible starts.
In a neutral site setting against Alabama, Michigan dug itself into a hole before most of the crowd found its seat -- falling behind 21-0 after the first quarter. Game over.
At Notre Dame, the Wolverines threw five straight interceptions to close out the first half. And though Michigan's defense kept it in the game, the early turnovers were far too much to overcome.
Brady Hoke called both of those losses total learning experiences earlier this week, saying his team should be able to benefit from fighting rowdy crowds in unfamiliar territory -- and learn from those early mistakes. To win on the road against good teams in tough environments, you have to hang around long enough to give yourself a chance.
Michigan doesn't have to win the game in the first quarter, it just can't lose it in the first quarter.
I tend to believe what Hoke's selling, as the team has looked completely different since that Notre Dame loss last month.
Michigan wants to win a Big Ten championship, we all know that. Well, the time has come to prove it. Championship teams get big road wins.
Michigan, you're up.
Has Michigan learned its lesson? Will the Wolverines finally be able to combat an emotionally-charged opponent away from home, or will they once again spend the entire game playing catchup before eventually falling short? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.