4 quarters away from a Rose Bowl are the Purdue Boilermakers. Who would have believed that would be possible just 4 months ago? Hell, who would have believed that would be possible 4 weeks ago? Purdue (8-4, 6-3) will take on its toughest opponent to date on Saturday and try to pull off one of the most improbable conference championship victories in years. Unfortunately, Michigan (12-0, 9-0) still has everything to play for as Jim Harbaugh and company look to solidify their spot in the College Football Playoff. It will be a tough match, so let’s take a look at how these teams stack up:
Purdue’s offensive game against Indiana was a bit of a microcosm for the season as a whole: you never know which Purdue is going to show up. The offense was only able to muster 3 points in the first half and then 3 touchdowns in the second half. Purdue will have to play lights out against a strong Michigan defense to compete in this game. After the announcement of the passing of Aidan O’Connell’s oldest brother, Sean, it is only assumed that he will be able to go in this one. I think I speak for all of Boiler Nation when I say that Aidan should do what’s best for himself and his family, no matter what that means. We do recognize that Aidan is by far the best option at QB, so we hope he is able to play. As for the rest of the offense, Devin Mockobee will look to have another strong game as he nears 1000 yards on the season. Charlie Jones and Payne Durham will look to show why they received All-B1G honors this year (I think both were snubbed). Be sure to check out Andrew’s (@jumboheroes) article on the awards for the season.
I think the defense for Purdue has made improvements this season. The rushing defense has been pretty good, allowing about 130 rushing yards per game which is good for 37th nationally. Where the defense struggles is the passing game in which it allows nearly 220 yards per game and ranks 59th nationally. In total, the defense is 33rd in the nation and 41st in scoring defense. One thing the defense does excel in is getting off the field on third down as they allow only 31.5% of third downs to be converted. I think it’s safe to say that the Purdue defense has been “boom or bust” this year as they have 13 interceptions but have allowed 9 passing touchdowns of 25 or more yards this season, although none in the last 3 games. It will have to be a marquee day for the defense as they go up against the 5th best rushing offense in the country.
This Michigan offense can be scary good. They have put up 40 or more points in half their games this season, including against both Penn State and Ohio State. As mentioned above, the rushing attack is one of the best in the nation, headed by a Heisman candidate in Blake Corum. Corum has been hurt the past few weeks, so it’s not certain he’ll play but his backup, Donovan Edwards, is a stud too, putting up 216 rushing yards on 22 attempts last week in Columbus. In the passing game, JJ McCarthy is no slouch either, as he has thrown for over 2200 yards, 17 touchdowns against only 2 interceptions. You can’t ask for much better efficiency when you are a running team.
The wolverine defense may not get the same hype as Iowa or Illinois, but they are still ferocious. Michigan ranks 2nd nationally in total defense and 3rd in scoring defense, allowing less than 13 points per game. The defense doesn’t have a true star like last year in Aiden Hutchinson, but as a unit, the defense shuts opponents down. The defense is able to clog rushing lanes and get to the quarterback as they have recorded 32 sacks on the season. What this defense doesn’t do spectacularly well is force turnovers, as they have recorded 10 interceptions and 3 fumble recoveries on the season. Also, on special teams, Michigan has one of the best kickers in the nation in Jake Moody, the winner of the 2021 Lou Groza Award. This year, Moody is 53/53 on PATs and 26/32 on field goal attempts.
DraftKings has Purdue as a 17 point underdog in Lucas Oil Stadium and an O/U of 52. This is a climate-controlled environment for the precision passing offense for Purdue which could be a major factor in how the offense operates. Devin Mockobee has come on strong in recent weeks and a balanced offensive attack will be vital to getting the Michigan defense on their toes. If Purdue’s defense can hold on and force a few turnovers, I like Purdue to cover and the over to hit.
Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.