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Michigan football looks to reverse trends during critical road trip to Wisconsin

Wolverines 0-6 as underdogs under Jim Harbaugh

Shea Patterson #2 of the Michigan Wolverines passes the ball against the Army Black Knights during the first half at Michigan Stadium on September 7, 2019 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Michigan football is back in action this weekend at Wisconsin, and history is not on its side.

The No. 11 Wolverines will visit the No. 13 Badgers to kick off Big Ten play. Both teams are coming off bye weeks after starting 2-0 in nonconference play.

Not all 2-0 starts are created equal, though.

Wisconsin has rolled through its first two opponents, winning by a combined score of 110-0. Running back Jonathan Taylor is a Heisman Trophy candidate, and new starting quarterback Jack Coan has been among the most efficient passers in the nation.

Then, there's Michigan.

After a mediocre performance against Middle Tennessee State in the opener, Michigan narrowly avoided disaster in the Army game, winning in double overtime. The Wolverines never led until the second overtime period.

Head coach Jim Harbaugh of the Michigan Wolverines shouts for an official during the first half of a game against the Army Black Knights at Michigan Stadium on September 7, 2019 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)

As a result of the first three weeks, Wisconsin has risen six spots in the AP poll, while Michigan has dropped four spots.

For the Wolverines to turn things around in Madison, they'll have to buck a handful of worrisome trends.

Most notably, Michigan hasn't won a single game as an underdog with Harbaugh as coach. It's 0-6 in those games, including a 2017 trip to Wisconsin.

Speaking of trips to Wisconsin, that's another trend working in the Badgers' favor. Michigan hasn't won a game in Madison since 2001, going 0-4 with three blowout losses in a row.

The home team is 9-1 in this matchup since 2001 -- another trend Michigan will look to break.

Harbaugh is also 1-6 in road games against ranked teams, with the  victory coming at No. 24 Michigan State last season. A win at No. 13 Wisconsin would be by far Michigan's most impressive feat in the last five years.

History technically has no bearing on this year's matchup, but these trends are additional mental hurdles the team has to overcome in its first road test.

If Michigan can pull an upset, it could be a springboard to what was once expected to be a special season. If not, Michigan's preseason expectations will start to look far-fetched.

There's still plenty of season left for the Wolverines, but Saturday will demonstrate whether they can reverse the program's ugly trends and be different from the teams that came before them

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