Purdue fans were not close to being confident heading into Saturday’s beautiful, 59 degree, sunny football contest in West Lafayette, IN. Michigan Wolverines were in town and that means a whole lot more away fans for Ross Ade. The maize and blue were evident heading up Chauncey Hill. Harry’s Chocolate Shop had a line out the door, so we elected to head to the famous Jon Hodge Tailgate in the Ross Ade Stadium Parking Lot.
After watching Michigan State finally get control of their game versus IU in the noon game (b/c Jon Hodge Tailgate has the best big screen to watch other games), we headed up to the press box to see if Purdue could battle with a Michigan team that is coming off a bye week. Before that bye week, Michigan lost at Notre Dame by only scoring 6 points, mainly to the fault of QB Denard Robinson’s 4 turnovers.
Boiler fans didn't get much of a chance to get involved early or often, as Michigan converted 3rd down after 3rd down on offense. The Boilers did not allow big gains early, but quarterback and team captain, Denard Robinson, plays like a tailback. The rushing combination of D. Robinson and RB Toussaint is one of the best in the Big 10 and when Bruce Gaston left the game injured in the first half, it was becoming clear that Michigan was going to exploit the Boilers rushing defense. Michigan out-rushed the Boilers 304-56. Denard Robinson had 24 carries for 235 yards, as he had a "field day." The very first drive for Michigan was 17 plays, 78 yards, and covered almost 9 minutes.
Robinson not only broke the 200 yard rushing mark, but broke the Big 10 record for rushing yards by a Quarterback. The record was previously held by Antwaan Randle El (IU, Steelers). The Purdue coaching staff did not have an answer for the Heisman candidate, whom also added 1 TD passing. (8/16, 105 yards)
With the Wolverine offense totaling 44 points, the Boilermaker offense needed to be able to exploit some of the weaknesses in that Michigan defense. Michigan’s secondary has been criticized for not having experience. However, Caleb Terbush couldn't get a first down until their 5th possession, well into the 2nd quarter, and trailing 14-0. With only four passing yards in the 1st quarter, the offense struggled. The Boilers just couldn't manufacture many points, because they could not move the chains. Going 1/11 on 3rd downs is not a recipe for victory against Michigan.
Robert Marve was a shot of encouragement for the team and fans. Marve went 5/8 for 43 yards in just two drives. Coach Hope entered Marve midway through 3rd quarter after Michigan was up by 24. Marve drove the Boilers down inside the 15 before penalties stalled the drive out. The result was a field goal. A lot of Boiler fans were upset with the decision to kick the field goal down 24 and not elect to try for the touchdown. It was 4th & Goal from the 19. Marve had some very athletic scrambles and moved well on his injured ACL. The fans really pull for this kid and he seems to want to reward them for their loyalty. Terbush has a 4 yard per completion average, which results in a lot of short passes that are farther thrown east & west rather than vertically downfield. Either way, nothing was able to stop Michigan’s dominance on a great, fall afternoon in the Midwest. After the game, there was not much excitement except for the RV tailgate lots, as the temperature was dropping just as the hopes of the Boilers fans to make a run at the Big 10 title this season.
Purdue and Coach Hope hope for better results next week as they host the Wisconsin Badgers, who are also looking to make a statement of their chances to win the Big 10.