Against Notre Dame, we all expected a much higher scoring game by both teams. If you had told any of us that Michigan would go the entire game without a touchdown, we would have laughed in your face. But alas, a plethora of untimely turnovers doomed Michigan’s chances of reaching the end zone and we were all way too high with our picks. This week, it’s safe to say Michigan will get back on track, but it won’t be easy. Let’s take a look at our picks.
|M&GB PREDICTION SUMMARY
Justin: Michigan 30 – Purdue 21
Chris: Michigan 31 – Purdue 14
Josh: Michigan 21 – Purdue 17
Sam: Michigan 35 – Purdue 17
Katie: Michigan 24 – Purdue 21
Matt: Michigan 38 – Purdue 28
Average: Michigan 30 – Notre Dame 20
Justin: Expect Purdue to put up a good fight through two or three quarters, possibly right down to the end, but Michigan should pull away. As has been mentioned multiple times, Purdue has a very realistic chance of winning the Big Ten this season, so the Boilers will be hungry. But expecting Denard to make the same mistakes he did against Notre Dame is wishful thinking if you’re a Purdue fan. Al Borges will employ a much more controlled offensive gameplan, keeping Denard both under control in the passing game and turning him loose with his feet. If Marshall and Notre Dame can put up big numbers through the air, Michigan can too and will outscore the Boilers.
For previous analysis, see the First Look, Friend vs Foe, and this morning’s game preview.
Michigan 30 – Purdue 21
Chris: The Purdue Boilermakers return 15 starters from last season’s 7-6 squad. Their record so far in 2012 (3-1) is a little deceiving because they have played three fairly weak teams in Eastern Kentucky, Eastern Michigan, and Marshall. Their only loss was a close contest at Notre Dame in Week 2. Because of this schedule, the Purdue offense has looked strong, scoring an average of 42.5 points per game. However, their defense has given up almost 21.
Michigan is coming off of a bye week following their poor performance against Notre Dame in Week 4. I believe that head coach Brady Hoke has used this time to re-focus his team and his quarterback for the start of the Big Ten conference schedule. All of Michigan’s goals for winning the conference championship are well within reach, starting with this week’s game against Purdue. Offensive coordinator Al Borges needs to get Denard going early to get him comfortable and in a rhythm. This means running the spread offense with Denard in the shotgun and letting him do what he does best. Michigan needs to establish the run early so the pass will open up later in the game.
I like Michigan to win this game by keeping it close in the first half by establishing themselves on both sides of the ball. Watch for them to make good halftime adjustments and pull away in the second half.
Michigan 31 – Purdue 14
Josh (1): After a much needed week off, Michigan is now set to resume its season with the first Big Ten conference game as they travel to West Lafayette to take on the Boilermakers. Purdue is an interesting team on offense. Quarterback Robert Marve started the first two weeks in place of a suspended Caleb Terbush, but injured his ACL in the fourth quarter against Notre Dame. Terbush has performed well in the two plus games since he has returned. Their running game is rather good with two solid backs.
DB Ricardo Allen is talented despite Purdue's secondary giving up a lot of yards (photo by John Terhune, Journal & Courier)
Marve has been taking some snaps in practice this week and it has not yet been determined whether he will play. Preparing for two QB’s is never easy, but since neither is a major threat to run the preparations should remain pretty much the same for Greg Mattison. Purdue will be a good litmus test for Michigan as they enter conference play.
Purdue is a fairly balanced team, averaging 262 yards passing and 200 yards rushing, but their strength is in the rush game. The Boilermakers have a bit of a two-headed rushing attack with Akeem Shavers and Akeem Hunt. Shavers gets the bulk of the carries but Hunt is a very capable back who makes the most of his touches, averaging a stellar 9.4 yards per carry.
On defense, the Boilermakers are coming off a win over Marshall in which they surrendered over 500 yards, 439 of which came through the air. The game was a shootout and Marshall threw the ball 68 times, so numbers like that can be expected. Still, it’s never a good sign when a defense gives up those types of numbers.
The Boiler defense didn’t allow EMU or EKU to put up big numbers – though EMU did rush for 169 yards – but they let ND threw for over 300 yards. It’s not a bad bunch, and they have a legitimate NFL corner in Ricardo Allen, but they are susceptible to giving up big yards to a good team. Marshall was completely one dimensional last week so it might play into Michigan’s hands to just run the ball until Purdue proves they can stop it.
Michigan’s pass offense, and Denard, have been much maligned by a lot of people. I hate to say it, but I am one of those people. I love Denard, he’s a great kid and I’ve enjoyed watching him play, but he continues to make too many basic mistakes at inopportune times game after game. However, he is our quarterback and while I may pine for the days of great pocket passers past, he is too dangerous with his feet to not start him.
If Michigan plays like they did last week and turns the ball over half a dozen times, they lose. Plain and simple. But I just don’t see that happening. Not to mention, that despite all those turnovers Notre Dame still barely won the game. Michigan is better than the media wants to give them credit for and Brady Hoke is not going to sit back and let his kids sink into a depression about a bad game against a rival.
The Big Ten title is still within Michigan’s grasp and the road starts in West Lafayette. I’m looking for Al Borges to pare down the aggressive play calling a bit and put Denard in situations to succeed, such as the short passing game and more of the zone read. Fitz is clamoring for more carries and I think he’ll get them. He torched Purdue last season and he’s looking to do it again.
After looking at game tape I’m sure Purdue is going to do what everyone does against Michigan, try to stop Denard from running, and force him to be a pocket passer. If Michigan wants to be successful against Purdue, and the rest of the conference this year, they need Toussaint to step it up and play like he did last year and take some pressure off Denard and the passing game. It boils down to balance on offense, and limiting their turnovers of course.
Fitz Toussaint broke out against Purdue last season. Look for a similar performance tomorrow (photo by Jonathan Daniel, Getty Images)
Mattison will look to employ his same old scheme (it’s a good one) and incorporate his NFL style blitzes to rattle either quarterback. Terbush has thrown the ball exceptionally well percentage-wise, but he has four picks to go along with his seven touchdowns and most of those touchdowns (four) came against Marshall in the shootout. Purdue’s run game could be a huge concern for Michigan if the front seven doesn’t play well.
It should be a hard fought battle with either team capable of coming away with a win. History is on Michigan’s side as they are pretty dominant coming off a bye week. Hoke and Co. will have these kids ready. If Borges finally stops trying to force Denard into being a pocket passer, Michigan wins a close one.
Michigan 21 – Purdue 17
Matt (2): Saturday at 4:00, we have our beloved Michigan Wolverines taking on the Purdue Boilermakers. I see this game being a high scoring game, although not a shoot out like we have seen Michigan in many times before.
Turnovers could be the key. Michigan gave up way too many turnovers in their last game against Notre Dame. If we see that happen again, they very well will lose this game. But if Denard Robinson can play as well as we know he can, we could blow this game wide open.
I could easily see either team walking away with this one. And like I said earlier, turnovers are key. Michigan’s turnover ratio is bad. If their secondary can step up, and slow down this Boilermaker offense, this game can be ours.
I don’t think it’ll be high scoring, but it won’t be low either. Michigan will get the lead early, and hang on to win. Michigan by ten!
Michigan 38 – Purdue 28
Sam: After a debacle in South Bend two weeks ago and a bye week last week, the Michigan Wolverines will travel to West Lafayette to take on the upstart Purdue Boilermakers this Saturday. While most years this might seem like a certain victory on the schedule, Brady Hoke’s team will have to be on its game in the Big Ten opener if they hope to make it back to Ann Arbor with an unblemished conference record. Danny Hope’s team, quarterbacked by Caleb TerBush, is by no means a powerhouse, but so far it has at least looked like a formidable, if unpredictable, foe.
It’s like senior year in college. Purdue is supposed to be a pushover, a team that you can slack against and still get by. But that’s not always the way it goes. The real world (the big boys of the Big Ten, even though it turns out they aren’t as scary this season) lurks around the corner and teachers will force you to work way too hard. In the end, it’s a challenge that is at the very least worrisome. But it’s also a challenge that Michigan should be able to pass.
The Maize and Blue come in as narrow three-point favorites with everything on the line. A loss to open Big Ten season would be devastating with games against Michigan State and at Ohio State still on the table and would obviously mean an uphill battle to their stated goal of a Big Ten Championship. Denard Robinson, it’s your time to shine.
Much has been said about the loss to the Fighting Irish two weeks ago, the only opponent that both Michigan and Purdue have in common so far this year. Robinson threw four interceptions and fumbled the ball once, and no matter how much blame you put on the shoulders of offensive coordinator Al Borges, I don’t think anyone can argue that Robinson played well. He orchestrated a few solid drives but failed to put points on the board, and in the end, the scoreboard is all that counts. Sure, Michigan outgained Notre Dame by 60 yards and Purdue was outgained by them by nearly 100. In the end, however, both teams lost, Michigan by six and Purdue by three.
So what can we take away from this game? As usual, Denard Robinson needs to play well for Michigan to play well. If he coughs up the ball one or zero times, Michigan will win by double digits. If Purdue takes it away two or more times, it’s anyone’s game. Purdue didn’t play well on offense in their 20-17 loss to Notre Dame, but their defense kept them in it until the bitter end, holding Theo Riddick and company to a measly 1.4 yards per carry. The pass defense did them in, having allowed 324 yards and a touchdown on 24-of-39 passing by Everett Golson and Tommy Rees.
Kawann Short is a beast in the middle of the Purdue defensive line
Now this doesn’t mean that Michigan needs to come out chucking downfield. In fact, that is exactly what gets Robinson in trouble most of the time. Borges would be wise to come out pounding the ball away on the outside. The Boilermaker’s Kawaan Short is an All-American defensive tackle, a guy who will cause havoc in both the pass and run games – he must be avoided. The Wolverines should come out running Fitzgerald Toussaint around Taylor Lewan and Michael Schofield, and giving Robinson plenty of carries to work his magic as well. Once Purdue realizes the game plan and starts loading the box, Michigan will be able to utilize the play action and work some short throws over the middle and on the outside to get Denard loose.
If Michigan sticks to this plan and the interior line of Ricky Barnum, Elliott Mealer, and Patrick Omameh can at least neutralize Short, Toussaint and Robinson will both run for over 100 and Michigan will start off the Big Ten with a solid, spread-covering win.
Michigan’s defense continues to impress even with a questionable defensive line; the linebackers and secondary have looked staunch in stopping the run and preventing back-breaking pass plays. Greg Mattison’s main focus on that side will be to stop TerBush from killing the corners with dink-and-dunk screens, so expect to see Raymon Taylor and J.T. Floyd play physical with Purdue’s wide receivers on the outside. A couple forced turnovers would be huge, and, as always, preventing plays of over 30 yards will be key. Akeem Shavers will see the bulk of the carries and TerBush will be throwing to a trio of receivers with more than 15 catches in Antavian Edison, O.J. Ross, and Gary Bush, but again, expect the linebackers to stop the run and the secondary to play tough.
In the end, I think Robinson will bounce back in a big way from a very humbling last outing, throwing for 150 yards and two touchdowns and running for another 120 yards and two touchdowns while not turning the ball over once. Toussaint will get going again with 100 yards and a touchdown and Michigan’s defense will hold strong to give the Wolverines their most impressive victory in the young season.
Michigan 35 – Purdue 17
Katie: Well, after last weeks lackluster performance hopefully we’ll see a refreshed offense, but I’m not holding my breathe. The five turnovers that Denard had were really disheartening, not that I didn’t see them in the realm of possibilities after these last few seasons, but I was optimistic, and I was wrong. That being said I can admit when I make mistakes and misjudge a situation.
Denard had a pedestrian performance against Purdue last season, but Toussaint stepped up (photo by Gregory Shamus, Getty Images)
Hoke’s faith in his starting quarterback became the picture of lunacy last week. Hopefully, he will never again be in the position of having to pull Robinson for an utter lack of composure and vision, but you never know, because Denard is still making throws off of his back foot, and throwing up balls that resemble tennis lobs. It was maddening as a viewer to see that Hoke would not call in the backup, and made me weary of his ability as a coach to make the necessary decisions. That being said I think that while Purdue is a dark horse, Michigan should be able to pick up the pieces and attempt to get back on track to answer whether this cup is half empty or half full.
After all the Wolverines have not yet played a Big Ten team, so their 2-2 record has yet to be defined in terms of the conference. Purdue played Notre Dame close, but ended up with the same results the Wolverines did. But Michigan’s loss falls heavily on the shoulders of a completely inept offense, and an awful strategy for moving the ball. This game will be different. Presumably. The Boilermakers are 3-1, but those wins came against MAC caliber opponents, making Michigan their first real test since facing the Irish, but this time they’ll have home field advantage.
The Boilermakers have been starting well. Putting up big numbers before halftime, so if Michigan wants to start off on the right foot in Big Ten play they had better show up early. Purdue has two receivers over two hundred yards receiving, and both of the quarterbacks that they use have better passing percentages than Denard, though that really doesn’t say much. The stat Michigan fans should want to know about is the interceptions, which total eight thus far for the Boilermaker backfield, an impressive number even though they came against teams that are not of the quality they will face this upcoming Saturday. As we saw, Robinson can be a turnover machine, so Purdue having made a couple of picks a game for four games shouldn’t sit well with Wolverine faithful. But the defense for the Michigan is more productive in terms of tackling, which is the meat and bones of that side of the ball. Picks are just the side dish. Defensively Michigan has the edge, and should also in terms of offense, though fans are all well aware of who has to have a productive game for the Wolverines to win. I’m leery of this one.
Michigan 24 – Purdue 21