On Saturday, the #8 ranked Michigan Wolverines hit the road to open up their Big 10 conference schedule against the pesky Purdue Boilermakers. The Wolverines are coming off two weeks of uninspiring football, while Purdue seems to be building some momentum heading into this showdown. Kickoff inside Rose-Ade Stadium is at 4 P.M. ET.
Over the last 10 head-to-head battles, the Wolverines have posted an 8-2 record against Purdue. During that span they’ve outscored Purdue 32.7 ppg to 19.8 ppg. This week’s game might be closer due to Michigan’s inability to blow out inferior opponents. Just look at their last 2 games where they were favored heavily and only won by a few scores. However, the Wolverines (3-0) are clearly the better team in this one and should still win the game.
The Boilermakers (2-1) are coming off an impressive dominating win over the Missouri Tigers 35-3. Purdue has won their last 2 games after a narrow loss to Louisville in the opening week 35-28. Will Purdue play Big 10 spoiler to Michigan this week?
The spread opened with Michigan favored by 8. It has since climbed up to 10 points. The Over/Under opened at 51.5 points and has gone up slightly to 52 total points.
Let’s just get this out of the way right now. The Wolverines burned us the last two week with being unable to cover the large spreads at home against inferior opponents. 2 weeks ago, they were a 30+ point favorite over Cincinnati and only won 36-14. Last week they were a 3 touchdown favorite over Air Force and only won 29-13. Where other teams like Wisconsin and Penn State are trending upward in blowing out inferior teams, Michigan seems to be trending downward ever since their opening week victory over Florida.
So, with that being said, I don’t trust Michigan to cover 10 points on the road at Purdue for the simple fact that they seem to play to their opponent’s level of talent. And, in the Big 10, if they don’t put teams away then they run the risk of letting a team hang around and beat them in the end. This week could be that scenario.
Purdue is averaging more points per game than Michigan: 35.7 to 32.7. They’re also putting up more total yards per game than Michigan: 459 ypg to 402 ypg. The area where Michigan shows a huge advantage is on defense where the Wolverines are holding teams to 14.7 points per game and only 208 yards per game. They’re also holding opponents to just 82 rushing yards per game. Those numbers are very impressive especially when you compare them to Purdue: 19.4 ppg, 374 ypg, and 129.7 rushing yards per game.
For Michigan to win this game, they must show up on defense and shut down Purdue’s offense. If the Wolverines can stop the run, which includes Purdue’s leading rusher Tario Fuller, then they can put serious pressure on quarterback David Blough who has done just enough this season to get the victories.
On offense, the Wolverines need more consistency from their passing game. Averaging only 202 passing yards per game is not going to get it done in the Big 10. It’s surprising because they have a solid quarterback in Wilton Speight. Unfortunately, he’s been inconsistent this season and that could be a problem this week at Purdue. Speight’s meager numbers on the season are: 571 passing yards, 54.5 completion percentage and a 3-2 TD-to-Int ratio.
Fortunately for the Wolverines, they have a solid rushing attack that is averaging almost 200 yards per game and it’s led by Ty Issac who has 336 rushing yards on the season. Chris Evans and Karan Higdon have also added over 100 yards rushing each.
The Over is 18-6 in Michigan’s last 24 games and 9-1 in their last 10 games on the road. The Over has also hit 4-of-6 times when these two teams meet. For Purdue, the Over is 11-2 in their last 13 games at home.
I don’t trust Michigan to cover any spread right now. Ironically, this might be the week where they actually play like they did in Week 1. To be on the safe side, I’m taking the Over in this one.