Wow, I think Michigan just scored again. Ooops, so did Illinois!
After a shootout at the Big House last Saturday, Michigan tries to build momentum from last week’s game, one in which the offense showed to be able to score pretty much whenever it needed to (despite a whopping 5 turnovers) and a defense that showed promise. Yes, the defense showed promise. Sure they gave up 45 in regulation, and 65 overall, but they did muster 9 stops. The youth showed on the wheel route, and the defense still has shown a propensity to give up 3 and long conversions. But had you told me going in that the offense would turn the ball over 5 times, Illinois would have an average starting field position dangerously close to midfield (with 4 drives starting inside Michigan’s 32), and Denard wouldn’t play in the 4th quarter, most would had said we lose by 3 touchdowns.
Which brings us to Purdue, which is about as Jekyll and Hyde as Michigan when it comes to performances. They shut down Northwestern (good offense) and beat Minnesota to open the big 10. Then beatdowns started by OSU, ILL and Wisconsin, to a tune of 127-23. Its can’t be denied that they’re so decimated by injury that the NCAA is considering giving the entire team an extra year of eligibility to save time from having to deal with all the medical redshirt filings (plus they’re short staffed having to investigate SEC programs)
That said, Purdue does a reasonable job running the football (#40 in FBS rankings). Especially because most teams expect them to run.
What has really killed this young and banged up team is turnovers. And with the Michigan defense’s lack of production in the turnover department, I expect Purdue to make this a game.
Purdue’s defense is lead by Ryan Kerrigan, who is their version of Brandon Graham from last year. Insanely good player, high motor, playing on an average/bad defense. The linebackers are similar to Michigan, especially prior to Demens inclusion in the starting lineup, inconsistent, and not great in pass coverage.
The key to Michigan’s success will be their ability to run the football outside of Denard. Purdue’s front 6-7 has done a decent job stopping the run, and if Michigan can run the read option and make it a true OPTION, and not a Denard keeper, it will pull in the safeties, and allow the type of passing success they enjoyed last week.
I truly think all the pressure is off after last week, but a repeat performance of Penn State needs to be avoided. Going into a game against a team where you’re a double digit favorite when you’re a young team, isn’t easy. All the momentum would be lost that was gained last week. This might be the best chance Michigan has to keep a Big 10 opponent under 30. And I think they will