Everyone knows that young teams struggle on the road; experience is essential for handling tough away games. To say that Michigan has struggled on the road during Rich Rodriguez's first two seasons would be a huge understatement. 1 of our 3 wins in '08 came on the road (Minnesota) and 0 of our 5 wins in '09 were away from Ann Arbor. In my opinion, Michigan's inexperience, especially at the quarterback position, plays a huge part in this lack of success on the road. Sure, the fact that we play our "cupcake" games at home also factors in to it, but I think we can all agree that Michigan has lost some road games recently that maybe would have gone differently had they been played at home.
We all know Michigan is 5-0 this season and Denard is 5-0 in his brief career as a starter. Michigan has also needed two dramatic come-from-behind victories to keep this perfect record intact (both on the road). Though Denard Robinson has played unbelievably all season, he has clearly struggled in the passing game on the road, relatively speaking. Denard's completion percentages this year are as follows:
- UConn: 86.4
- Notre Dame: 60.0
- UMass: 71.4
- Bowling Green: 100.0
- Indiana: 62.5
The only games in which Denard's completion percentage has been below 70% have come on the road this year. Does this mean Indiana and ND have better pass defenses than the rest of our competition to this point? Most likely. But watching Denard play in Bloomington and South Bend, it is clear at times that he gets a little shaken up and makes some poor decisions or errant throws. In contrast, when playing in the Big House, he's looked cooler than the other side of the pillow. Despite his struggles on the road, Denard has shown the maturity and poise to settle down and lead Michigan to pay dirt when it matters most.
MSU was definitely impressive in their win over Wisconsin last Saturday. If this weekend's game was in East Lansing, I'd be pretty nervous about it. But I really think the home field advantage we'll get will play a huge factor, since we have a very young team and a still inexperienced, though phenomenal, quarterback in Denard Robinson.
My prediction: M 49, MSU 38.