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Pur-who? Pur-don’t? Purdue.

October 5, 2012

If you’ve paid attention to any of the national or local pundits this week, Michigan is apparently about to run into a buzzsaw in West Lafayette this weekend against Purdue.  A 3-1 Purdue team whose signature “win” is a moral victory 3 point loss to an overrated Notre Dame team.  Its a Purdue team with a juggernaut offense averaging 42.5 points a game against a schedule that includes national powers such as Eastern Michigan, Eastern Kentucky and Far Eastern Ohio (Marshall).  It’s a Purdue team with  stifling defense that gave up 41 points to Marshall which would have been more but for 4 Marshall turnovers.  It’s a Purdue team with a starting QB who this fall couldn’t beat out a 5th year senior who has had two blown out ACLs in his career and who might lose a series to this same QB who currently has a torn ACL.  Let me say that again – Purdue’s starting QB may not be a better option than the backup QB who currently has a torn ACL.  

Yet Purdue is suddenly the nation’s darling.  I haven’t been able to figure out why, and neither has Mike apparently.  The only thing I can rationalize is that in order to pump up Notre Dame’s “impressive” 4-0 start, the media needs to find a quality opponent in there since we are 2-2, MSU is 3-2 and Navy is well…Navy.  In any case, Michigan beat Purdue by 22 points last year, and it wasn’t that close.  Now we are both very similar teams in terms of personnel, but suddenly we’re only a 3 point favorite on the road.  It makes absolutely no sense.  

The only other explanation I have is the turnover bug that bit Michigan last week.  And I have no problem say that yes, if we turn the ball over 6 times on Saturday, we will not win the game.  That is a fact.  

RECIPE FOR A WIN

  • Tackle Well in Space – Purdue does a good job of getting their receivers open on screens and short passes.  If we let them turn 3 yard gains into 10 yard gains, it could be a long day.  I expect it to be frustrating at first because I do expect Greg Mattison to force Purdue to prove they can do that regularly without making mistakes.  That seems to be his gameplan for all college teams – keep everything in front of you and assume the other team isn’t talented/skilled enough to put together 12 play drives.  That’s probably a good plan, but Purdue’s specialty is the short pass, so we need to tackle well. 
  • Denard Being Denard – Last year vs. Purdue Denard did not have a stellar day.  It was a workman like 263 yards and one touchdown.  A large reason for that was Fitzgerald Toussaints 170 yards and two touchdowns though.  If Fitz can get going like that again, we don’t need a stellar game from Denard.  Otherwise, 300 yards of total offense, 2 touchdowns and no more than 1 turnover is probably what it will take.  Nothing spectacular, but he has to be “on”.
  • Grind it Out – As much of a talent deficit Michigan has compared to teams of a decade ago, we are still more talented and deeper than 80% of the Big Ten, including Purdue.  For Michigan, that means eventually we will wear down the other team on offense and defense, as long as we don’t get behind.   Keep playing solid defense, don’t take too many risks on offense, and eventually Purdue will fold.

PREDICTION 

Listen, its  possible Michigan could lose this game.  More talented Michigan teams have lost on the road to Purdue.  But Purdue is only going to beat us if we beat ourselves with missed red zone opportunities, turnovers and mental errors.  I fully expect a B+ or better performance from Denard, and I don’t buy the Purdue offensive hype – especially against our rapidly improving defense.  It may be close for the first half, but eventually we pull away. 

Michigan 34

Purdue 20 

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