Well, waking up with a bit of a Purdue hangover. Or maybe it’s just an actual hangover, either way it didn’t feel great. Purdue fell to Michigan in the B1G Championship game 22-43. And while this is what majority of people predicted, it never feels good to lose.
If you take a look at the stat sheet, you wouldn’t think this was the final score. We had more total yards, passing yards, first downs, dead even in third down efficiency, and led in time of possession. They beat us on the ground heavily with 225 rushing yards to our 90 which was to be expected.
The difference maker in this game was Michigan being able to convert their red zone appearances to touchdowns. In a game where we had nothing to lose and needed to score, we settled for way too many field goals. And by too many, I mean 5. We kicked 5 field goals in the B1G Championship game against a team who put up 45 points against Ohio State. Play calling dooms us once again. As the old saying goes, play to win, not to not lose. AOC went 32/47 with 366 yards and two interceptions. Charlie Jones stepped up in the moment; 13 catches for 162 yards and broke the record for most receptions in a Big Ten Championship game.
I think most of us were probably happy going into the half only down one. But Michigan came out firing in the third quarter and scored back-to-back touchdowns to take a 15-point lead. We felt a little dead in the water at this point, but Purdue's offense responded and marched down the field to get us within striking distance. We got a little momentum under our belt before AOC threw an untimely interception when we needed to score. Our defense was able to hold them on their next drive and again we moved the ball down the field at the end of 3rd but couldn’t make it to the end zone. Fineran kicked a 43-yard field goal and cut their lead to 12. Finally, some points.
On Michigan's next offensive possession, Jamari Brown picked off McCarthy with a little over a minute left in the quarter. A sigh of relief swept Boiler nation as we now had the opportunity to make this a one possession game. AOC and Co. responded by getting back in the red zone. A touchdown here brings the Boilers within 5, BUT AGAIN, we settled on a field goal. I think me and my entire Twitter timeline were a little flabbergasted by this call. With 12 minutes left in the game and a Michigan offense who is scoring with ease, I don’t understand why we didn’t go for it here? Where was the “fake punt to get the first down gutsy play calling we saw in the first quarter?” And after reading some of Brohms post-game presser, I think this is one he would have done differently.
Michigan went on to score two more touchdowns and Purdue never saw the end zone again. Kudos to the Wolverine defense for tightening up when we would try to stop the bleeding and they never allowed us to really establish a ground game. Mockobee was held to 71 yards on 17 attempts.
While we didn’t win on a game winning field goal like I predicted, Fineran did redeem himself going 5/5. I’ve never been great at math but 7 is more than 3 and when you are trading field goals for touchdowns, the numbers won’t add up in your favor. Now we await to see where Purdue is headed for their Bowl game…. one thing’s for sure - It won’t be in Pasadena.