Despite opening the season against a ranked Florida team, Michigan may have their toughest game of the season this week at Purdue. A struggling Wolverines’ offense will have their hands full with a pretty impressive Purdue team through three games. The game will be played at Ross-Ade Stadium at 4 p.m. (ET) and Fox will have the TV coverage.
What we know
The Wolverines dropped one spot in the AP polls this week to No. 8 in the country. Michigan doesn’t necessarily look like a top ten team right now due to their inconsistent offense. Last week they were unable to convert a red zone appearance into a touchdown, going 0-4. Luckily young kicker Quinn Nordin has been able to step up big time, going 11-13 on field goal opportunities this season.
Wilton Speight has continued to struggle this season, throwing interceptions and getting sacked more often than he’s used too. Speight hasn’t just been missing receivers down the field, but he’s also airmailing short, easy passes that he completed effortlessly last season. The running game has been able to get the Wolverines into the red zone, but Speight and the offensive line seem to deflate once they get close to the goal line.
Purdue has already made a statement this season with two blow out wins and a very close loss to the 19th ranked Louisville Cardinals. Quarterback David Blough has had an extremely efficient season, going 51-67 for 597 yards and six touchdown passes. That means Blough has put up better numbers than Speight in all three categories. While Michigan’s offense has been staggering inside the red zone, Purdue has been almost lights out. The Boilermakers are 13-13 on scoring when in the red zone this season.
Michigan’s keys to victory
Like every game this season Michigan will be relying on their talented to defense to give the offense some breathing room. The Wolverines have depended on their defense against Florida, Cincinnati, and Air Force. The difference between Purdue and the rest of the teams Michigan has played so far is their offense. Purdue is ranked top 50 in total offense, while Air Force, Florida, and Cincinnati are not. This means that Michigan’s defense will really be put to the test on Saturday.
The Wolverines’ defense will need to continue its pursuit to the quarterback because David Blough has been outstanding this season. If the Wolverines give Blough too much time in the pocket, he’ll make the young secondary pay. If they can get sacks, they should be able to rattle Blough and force him to make some bad decisions.
It’s assumed that the offense is going to continue to rely on field goals instead of scoring touchdowns. Since Purdue is going to be the best offensive team that they’ve played so far, the Wolverines may have to score some touchdowns this week. Special teams will continue to be strong with great punt returns by Donovan Peoples-Jones and great field goal kicking by Quinn Nordin. However, the offense will still need to score touchdowns in their first true road game of the season.
Michigan’s offense has recorded less total yards each week since the start of the season.
The Wolverines have a three game winning streak against Purdue, but the two teams haven’t played since 2012.
Purdue’s passing offensive is ranked No. 35 in the nation.
I think this is going to be a very close game, despite the fact that Michigan is a 10 point favorite on the road. If Michigan can’t get into the end zone once or twice then I think they lose. If they could, then they should be able to hold Purdue’s offense enough to snag a road victory. When it comes down to it, Purdue allows 374 yards of offense per game, while Michigan allows just 208 yards. I think Michigan will win 20-14, only because their top ten defense has played at such a high level.
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