Preview and Predictions: Michigan football vs. Purdue




 

Michigan is headed back to Indianapolis for the second straight year. The Wolverines are coming off of a perfect regular season going 12-0 and the maize and blue beat both rivals: Michigan State and Ohio State.

Last season, Michigan defeated Iowa in the Big Ten Championship, and this year the Wolverines will take on 8-4 Purdue.

Saturday will mark the first game between Michigan and Purdue since 2017. The Wolverines marched into West Lafayette in 2017 and took down the Boilermakers, 28-10.

Michigan holds a good lead in the series between the two teams. The Wolverines lead the Boilermakers 45-14 in the all-time series. The maize and blue have defeated Purdue four straight times.

We are going to preview the game on Saturday and let you know what to watch out for. Plus, our writers will predict the outcome of the game.

By the numbers: Stat comparisons

 

Mandatory Credit: Sandra Dukes-USA TODAY Sports

Scoring offense:

Michigan 7th (39.8 points per game)

Purdue 66th (28.6 points per game)

Scoring defense:

Michigan 3rd (12.7 points allowed per game)

Purdue 41st (23.1 points allowed per game)

Passing offense:

Michigan 91st (214.6 yards per game)

Purdue 21st (280.7 yards per game)

Passing defense:

Michigan 11th (177.3 yards allowed per game)

Purdue 59th (218.3 yards allowed per game)

Rushing offense:

Michigan 5th (244.5 yards per game)

Purdue 97th (125.8 yards per game)

Rushing defense:

Michigan 3rd (84.8 yards allowed per game)

Purdue 36th (128.7 yards allowed per game)

Total offense:

Michigan 24th (459.1 yards per game)

Purdue 52nd (406.5 yards per game)

Total defense:

Michigan 2nd (262.2 yards allowed per game)

Purdue 33rd (347 yards allowed per game)

Purdue offense vs. Michigan defense

 

Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Purdue finished the regular season having the second most passing yards in the Big Ten. The Boilermakers average 280 yards through the air per game. Purdue also averages 406 yards per game on offense - the fourth most yards on average in the conference.

The Boilermakers' Aidan O'Connell has the ability to really sling the football. In 11 games this season, he has completed 63% of his passes, threw for 3,124 yards, and threw 22 touchdowns, but had 11 interceptions.

Turnovers have been Purdues' Achillies Heel this season and O'Connell hasn't helped. In the four losses this season, O'Connell has had 5 passing touchdowns and six interceptions. He has had two or more interceptions thrown in three games this season with two of those games resulting in a loss.

The Wolverines are ranked 103rd in the country forcing 13 turnovers this season. But Michigan is coming off the Ohio State with some confidence after intercepting C.J. Stroud twice in the fourth quarter. Michigan has a chance to keep the turnover streak alive as a defense on Saturday against the Boilermakers.

O'Connell has a couple of targets the Wolverines are going to want to watch out for on Saturday. Charlie Jones, the former Iowa receiver, came to Purdue this past summer after transferring in from Iowa. He has been a target machine for O'Connell and Jones has made the most of the opportunities. He caught 97 balls for 1,199 yards and 12 scores. Not only did he lead the Big Ten in yards, but Jones tallied more receiving yards in one season at Purdue than he had in three years combined with the Hawkeyes.

Tight end Payne Durham ended the regular season with 550 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. TJ Sherfield was right behind Jones and Durham with 370 yards and three scores. ]

The top three coverage defenders for Michigan, according to Pro Football Focus, are Will Johnson (81.2 grade), Rod Moore (81.2), and Makari Paige (79.3). They will be asked to take turns against Jones - who primarily plays on the outisde - and Durham.

While Purdue enjoys passing the ball, the Boilermakers really like their freshman running back Devin Mockobee. Purdue has handed him the ball 165 times this season. That is the most carries a Boilermaker has had since Markell Jones carried the rock 168 times back in 2015. Mockobee has run for 849 yards and eight scores on the ground in 12 games.

Purdue will more than likely try and get Mockobee going on the ground, but Michigan has been excellent at stopping the run this season. The Wolverines have allowed 100 yards or more in just five games this season. In four games, Michigan hasn't allowed more than 40 yards.

Michigan offense vs. Purdue defense

 

News broke on Thursday that Blake Corum would be having surgery on his knee and will miss the rest of the season.

Not good for Michigan, who is trying to make a playoff run and win a championship, but if the Ohio State game told us anything, the Wolverines are able to score the ball with or without their Heisman contending back.

Sophomore Donovan Edwards showed this past Saturday he is more than capable of leading the team on the ground. Against Ohio State, Edwards ran for 216 yards and two scores. The sophomore has played in nine games and he has run for 687 yards and six scores on the ground. He is averaging 7.4 yards per carry. Freshman CJ Stokes will more than likely be the No. 2 back behind Edwards now. He averages nearly five yards a carry and he's scored once this season on the ground.

But what was really impressive last week against Ohio State was J.J. McCarthy. He threw for 263 yards and three scores while rushing for another touchdown. He took command of the offense and made plays when they were needed - it was what appeared to be his breakout game. His performance against the Buckeyes marked the second-most yards he threw on the season behind the 304 yard performance against Indiana.

The Boilermakers have allowed three teams to throw for more than 300 yards on them in a game: Penn State, Maryland, and Nebraska. Purdue has limited four teams to under 200 yards this season through the air. Purdue has two safeties that have the ability to intercept the ball. Cam Allen leads the team with three picks, while Chris Jefferson is tied with Cory Trice with two interceptions this season.

Michigan's offensive line, which may win the Joe Moore Award again this season, has been stellar. The Wolverines should have their full complement back again this week on the line and Michigan will be facing a Purdue team that has racked up 28 sacks this season. Defensive end Jack Sullivan leads the team with 5.5 sacks, Khordae Sydnor has 4.5, and Kydran Jenkins has four sacks.

Assuming McCarthy is going to have his normal amount of time, if not longer, to throw the ball on Saturday, he should be able to excel having all of his weapons available. Cornelius Johnson is coming off a two-touchdown performance against Ohio State last weekend. Ronnie Bell and Roman Wilson are always threats to watch out for and Michigan has two legit tight ends in Luke Schoonmaker and Colston Loveland.

Staff predictions

Wolverines Wire staff writers Isaiah Hole and Trent Knoop share their thoughts on the game, two soft predictions, one bold prediction and the final score.

Isaiah Hole:

Final score prediction

  • Michigan 35, Purdue 20

 

Trent Knoop:

Michigan had four goals when this season started. Beat Michigan State and Ohio State, win the Big Ten, and win the national championship. The Wolverines have accomplished two of those goals so far this season and Michigan can check off a third one on Saturday.

Purdue is 8-4 but this is a good 8-4 team. The Boilermakers lost three games that they very easily could've won, but silly mistakes haunted them in the end. The problem is it's becoming a trend.

The Boilermakers play in the West, the division has not been good at all this year - hence a four-loss team made the championship game. Michigan is the most talented team Purdue has played to date and the Wolverines will have the most vaunted defense Aidan O'Connell has gone up against.

I really like Michigan in this game. This will be a good game for the Wolverines to get their offense going without Blake Corum around. It will be a good test for the Wolverines to see how ready this offense is for the CFP without their best player. I think J.J. McCarthy and Donovan Edwards both have big games.

-Soft predictions

  • J.J. McCarthy has three total touchdowns

  • Donovan Edwards runs for over 150 yards

-Bold prediction

  • Aidan O'Connell throws under 200 yards

Final score prediction

  • Michigan 38, Purdue 17

Story originally appeared on Wolverines Wire

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