Purdue enters Week 6 of the 2012 college football season with a lot to smile about and a lot to be hopeful for. Having finally avoided the dreadful 2-2 campaign start in the Danny Hope era, the 3-1 Boilermakers have looked very impressive through the first four non-conference games of the season. Their only loss so far has been a three point sham on the road against a team who is currently ranked in the AP's top ten. What's more, two of the Boilers' division rivals are ineligible for the entire 2012 postseason (OSU and PSU), one is always a joke (LOL IU), and the other two look like very subpar and vulnerable units (Wisco and Illinois).
Thus, even as I type, Purdue is building a ton of hype about its potential to win the Leaders Division and head to the B1G Championship Game on December 1st. What is possibly just as intriguing, however, is the fact that Purdue could be ranked come Homecoming against Wisconsin with a victory over Michigan next weekend. But, a win on Saturday won't come easily.
Though this current Michigan squad started its season at 2-2, its two losses have come against No. 1 Alabama at a neutral location and at No. 9 Notre Dame. And, lest we forget, the Wolverines are the defending Sugar Bowl champions!
Needless to say, Saturday's game will be tough for Purdue anyway you slice it. This should be especially true for our defense, who will be challenged with containing a certain dual-threat phenom named Denard Robinson. Though he isn't the greatest passer (6 TDs and 8 INTs so far this year), Robinson is the quintessential playmaking Quarterback. He can make all kinds of big plays with his legs and he has a knack for finding the big play in the air as well. Luckily for us, Purdue has had a good history of shutting Robinson down. But, if we want to do that AND beat Michigan next weekend, we will have to force Robinson into making multiple, key mistakes throughout the game. Hopefully our DBs can come up big like they did against Marshall and our front 7 can stop Robinson from ripping off some big yardage on the ground.
Another guy our defense MUST stop is Michigan's tailback, Fitzgerald Toussaint. Although he has had a very quiet start to the season, Toussaint ran for 170 yards and 2 TDs against the Purdue D last year. Stuffing the run and shutting Toussaint down is almost as big of a priority as stopping Robinson is. I believe our D is good enough to take care of these things, but make no mistake. The Michigan offense will be a challenge for them.
On the other side of the ball, the Purdue O looked very bit as impressive as the defense last week. In particular, Caleb TerBush had one hell of a game last week. Hopefully he can carry some momentum with him to next weekend and have another great game. But, like the defense, he will be challenged by a skilled Wolverine defensive backfield, of which the four starters are all experienced upperclassmen.
I think the key for the offense this weekend will be to minimize mistakes and penalties. If we want to win, the offense cannot give up multiple turnovers and shoot itself in the foot by killing key possessions with dumb penalties. To beat Michigan, the O must play tough, smart football and control the pigskin and the clock throughout the game. Other than that, hopefully J.B. Gibboney has figured out a way for our punt team to actually BLOCK!
If we can do these things, I think a win over Michigan and a number placed next to our name against Wisconsin might be in order.
But, anyways, here is all of the very vital information about Purdue's matchup with the Wolverines on Saturday.
Opponent: Michigan Wolverines (2-2, 0-0 B1G)
2011 record: 11-2 (6-2 B1G), Won Allstate Sugar Bowl 23-20 in OT vs. #11 Virginia Tech
Last week: Michigan had a bye week. In their last game two weeks ago, the Wolverines lost at Notre Dame 13-6.
Date of game: Saturday, October 6, 2012
Kickoff time: 4:00 PM ET
Game location: Ross-Ade Stadium, West Lafayette, IN
Series record: Michigan leads the all-time series 43-14.
Series record in Ross-Ade: Michigan has won 12 out of the 19 total games played between the two schools in Ross-Ade.
Last meeting: Last year, Michigan beat Purdue 36-14 in Ann Arbor.
Last meeting in Ross-Ade: In 2010, Purdue lost at home to Michigan 16-27.
Last Purdue win: In 2009, Purdue upset Michigan in Ann Arbor for the first time in decades by winning a 38-36 thriller.
Last Purdue win in Ross-Ade: In 2008, Purdue beat the Wolverines in a 48-42 shootout at home.
Ticket information: Tickets can be purchased at www.purduesports.com. Individual student tickets for the game run $25 and student guest tickets cost $35 each. For non-student tickets, prices range from $25 to $50 on the site, depending on the section. Also, the Family Four Pack is available for the game, which includes 4 tickets for the North Endzone section at $30 each (cheaper than the regular $35 price for tickets in that section) as well as 4 $5 food vouchers costing $4 a piece. This brings the grand total for the package to $136 and a total savings of $24 on the deal. In addition, non-student tickets for the game can be purchased at StubHub. Here, prices range from $29 to over $300, depending on section of course.
Game promotions: It will officially be Hammer Down Cancer Day at the football game this weekend. Fans have been asked to wear cancer-supporting t-shirts to the game in honor of all those who have battled or are battling the disease. More info about the event can be found here. Also, an officially licensed cancer-supporting Purdue t-shirt has been produced and is being sold at Follett's, Purdue Pride in Ross-Ade and also online for $16. All game attendants are encouraged to make donations to the Purdue Center for Cancer Research either online or by mail to Purdue University Center for Cancer Research, Hansen Life Sciences Building, 201 S. University Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907.
TV: Big Ten Network
Radio: Purdue Sports Network (All 27 PSN radio channels can be found here), Sirius Channel 94, XM Channel 201
Opponent blog(s): Michigan has a blog at SB Nation: Maize n Brew. Other Michigan sports blogs and sports news sites include mgoblog.com, www.mlive.com/wolverines/ and umgoblog.com. And of course, a ton of information about Michigan's football team and program can always be found at the U of M's official athletic site: www.mgoblue.com.
Weather at kickoff: Right now, the forecast at weather.com says that West Lafayette will cool down to 52 degrees on Saturday and experience a 50% chance of showers and a slight 6 mph breeze. Clearly, this could change significantly by Saturday. But, at least for now, plan to bundle up and remember that if it rains, no umbrellas are allowed inside Ross-Ade Stadium.
(For the curious) Other big Week 6 FBS games:
- Navy at Air Force, Saturday at 11:30 AM ET on CBS
- No. 24 Northwestern at Penn State, Saturday at 12:00 PM ET on ESPN
- No. 4 LSU at No. 10 Florida, Saturday at 3:30 PM ET on CBS
- No. 17 Oklahoma at Texas Tech, Saturday at 3:30 PM ET on ESPN2/ABC
- Illinois at Wisconsin, Saturday at 3:30 PM ET on ESPN2/ABC
- No. 5 Georgia at No. 6 South Carolina, Saturday at 7:00 PM ET on ESPN
- No. 8 West Virginia at No. 11 Texas, Saturday at 7:00 PM ET on FOX
- Miami (FL) at No. 9 Notre Dame, Saturday at 7:30 PM ET on NBC
- No. 21 Nebraska at No. 12 Ohio State, Saturday at 8:00 PM ET on ABC
- No. 23 Washington at No. 2 Oregon, Saturday at 10:30 PM ET on ESPN