Michigan prepared for the 'hatred' that comes with playing at Ohio State
ANN ARBOR -- The last time Michigan headed down US-23 and into Columbus, it was 7-4 and had won two of its past three games.
And it got stomped, trailing 24-7 by halftime before eventually falling 37-7. It was a disgraceful ending to the 2010 regular season for the soon-to-be-fired Rich Rodriguez.
As No. 20 Michigan (8-3, 6-1) prepares to make its return to the Horseshoe to face No. 4 Ohio State (11-0, 7-0), senior defensive lineman Will Campbell recalls just how difficult it is to play there.
"Hostile environment," Campbell said Monday. "You can't compare it to anywhere else because of the hatred it comes with. When you go down there, you just see a sea of red, similar to Nebraska.
"It's just a feeling you get once you enter Columbus, like, 'We're here, it's time to go, get ready for a fight.'"
That's a fight Michigan has lost five times in a row. No current player has won there (obviously), and the fifth-year seniors have been outscored there 79-14.
Michigan hasn't won at Ohio Stadium since 2000.
Brady Hoke has yet to appear in that stadium as Michigan's head coach, although he was on the sidelines as an assistant for the Wolverines' last win there, a 38-26 victory in 2000.
Hoke was 2-1 as a Michigan assistant in Columbus, also winning 13-9 in 1996 and losing 31-16 in 1998. He didn't share much insight from those games.
“It really is a great environment, and we have a lot of respect for them," Hoke said. "They have good football players -- always have and always will.
"Their fans are passionate about their school, which is what makes college football so great, which is what makes this rivalry so great. I can’t speak to winning down there, losing down there. I’ve done both. It’s a fun week, I can tell you. Fun week in practice. And it’s a fun game to be involved with.”
Michigan is expected to look a little different for this year's matchup, with Devin Gardner now at quarterback and Denard Robinson serving a utility role at tailback, receiver and quarterback.
Gardner is 3-0 as the starting quarterback, but this will be his stiffest test yet. Minnesota, Northwestern and Iowa are a combined 18-15, and 8-13 in Big Ten play. The only road game was at a half-filled TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
Ohio State is 11-0 and plays in one of the country's most hostile venues. It hasn't lost there since Nov. 19 of last year.
"The last time I was down (in Columbus) I was a freshman and I watched from the sideline," Gardner said. "It was an amazing environment. The entire time, although we lost and were losing, I couldn't wait to get the opportunity to be a key element in the rivalry.
"It's going to be exciting."