Michigan set to play Gophers: Its 5th straight game at home

  • Article by: LARRY LAGE
  • Associated Press
  • September 27, 2011 - 12:51 PM

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Michigan has won its first four games and climbed to No. 19 in the rankings. Trouble is, all those wins have come at home.

Playing at Michigan Stadium against mostly lackluster opponents -- San Diego State, Eastern Michigan, Notre Dame and Western Michigan -- has left questions about how good the Wolverines (4-0) really are. Those queries aren't likely to be answered this week in the Big Ten opener against Minnesota (1-3).

"I don't think we'll find that out until we leave Ann Arbor, then we'll find out where we're at," coach Brady Hoke said Monday.

Before the Oct. 8 game at Northwestern, Michigan will host a struggling Golden Gophers team coming off a loss to second-tier North Dakota State.

Minnesota coach Jerry Kill was on the sidelines for the demoralizing loss, but on Sunday readmitted himself to a hospital to seek more treatment for the seizures that have plagued him for more than two weeks now. It was unclear when he will be back with the team and defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys would step in if he misses the game.

The Wolverines, meanwhile, will welcome back punter Will Hagerup after he served a four-game suspension for violating an unspecified team rule. Hoke said Hagerup is not just going to automatically get his job back ahead of freshman Matt Wile.

"They'll compete during the week," Hoke said.

Troy Woolfolk left Saturday's win over against San Diego State after aggravating his sprained left ankle, but Hoke said the starting cornerback was able to run during Sunday's workouts. Hoke didn't sound as confident about whether left guard Ricky Barnum (left ankle) and linebacker Cam Gordon back) will be able to play against Minnesota.

Michigan's first five games are at home this year for the first time since 1976 and it won't happen again any sooner than 2015. But a future schedule will likely be set up the same way with plenty of home cooking in September.

"If we have a year where Notre Dame is scheduled to be a home game and our first Big Ten game that year is also scheduled as a home game, then it is a distinct possibility we could have five home games in a row in the future," athletic director Dave Brandon wrote in an e-mail.

Hoke and his players called the scheduling quirk "unusual" and one of the Wolverines sounds as if he's ready to hit the road.

"It feels weird that I haven't played an away game yet," defensive end Ryan Van Bergen said. "It's going to be interesting when we finally get that away game to see how we respond."

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