So this is it. The Boilers have three games left with two wins needed to become bowl eligible. They go to Michigan State next weekend so I think that they will have to take care of Michigan this week along with beating the Hoosiers to get their two wins. There is also the chance that they finish out 0-3. I think that the events of this weekend will go a long way in determining how the rest of the season goes.
To win this game the Boilers will have to put some points on the board. Illinois scored 65 on Michigan last week and still lost. True freshman Sean Robinson will get his second straight start at quarterback for the Boilers. It is basically his third full game considering he played the majority of the game at Illinois. Sean has to have a game similar to the one he had against Wisconsin in the first half. He could keep his passes down if he wants to as well. One thing that could help the Boilers offense is the fact that the Big Ten’s leading tackler linebacker Jonas Mouton may not play. Anything that can help the Boiler offense is welcome at this point. I think that the Boilers have the offense to keep up with Michigan. The question is though can they put the pieces together? They seemed to have a better handle on the offense even against a quality team like Wisconsin. They had the ball for just over half of the game so the defense could actually rest. Part of that might be that Purdue gave the Badgers a short field for most of their scoring drives, but they still could control the ball. All of the Big Ten foes that Michigan has played so far this season have scored over 34 points this season. Purdue has not scored over 31 yet this season. This could be a week that the Boiler offense gets healthy. With a secondary that is as banged up as our offense is that hopefully won’t be a stretch.
One thing that I noticed while looking at the stats this week was that Purdue quarterbacks seemed to get hurt right after passing for over 500 yards on the season. Robert Marve threw for 512 yards then got hurt. Rob Henry just went over with 501 yards, then was hurt. Sean Robinson has 223 yards passing on the season right now so Skyler Titus might want to start taking some snaps. Maybe Justin Siller will be healthy by then. I hope that Robinson can get to the 500 yard mark during this game so that this curse can be put to rest.
Now all the offense in the world will not win this game unless the Boilers can stop Denard Robinson. So far this season Denard himself has out gained the entire Purdue offense by almost 400 yards. He is a player like we have not seen so far this season. Well at least on the other team. Purdue has had trouble with mobile quarterbacks so far this season, and (along with Cam Newton) Robinson might be the most mobile. He is 150 rushing yards from having the best season ever from a quarterback. This game will probably come down to which Robinson has the best game. Will SRob have the edge or will it be DRob?
The Purdue defense must step up their game the same way that they did against Wisconsin. If they can get the rest that the offense should give them they have no excuse not to perform this week. Albert Evans is back at safety, and he showed his worth right away last week with a pick. Ryan Kerrigan only has two more home games left in his career so we have to enjoy him while we can. He is within striking distance of a couple Big Ten and school records, and this is a great week to get them. Of course last week was a good week as well.
Purdue may have turned a corner on special teams. Last week Wayne Gravesande returned a punt for 22 yards. That may not seem like a lot, but it is the longest return of the season. In the first seven games of the season Purdue averaged 1.5 yards per return. I started getting upset about this stat leading up to the Illinois game. Since the Illinois game though they have averaged 12.3 yards per return. A good or great return would be nice to set up some scores every now and then.
Both teams are at the Bottom of the Big Ten in turnovers. Purdue is tenth in the league, and Michigan is hanging out in the cellar. Purdue was doing very well early in this category, but the last couple of weeks they have really regressed. The turnovers have hurt them badly in that span. Illinois and Wisconsin turned those turnovers into 52 points. You cannot win football games giving up 26 points a game off of turnovers. This is the one thing that has me worried going into the game. The positive side of the equation though is the fact that Michigan might just give us the ball right back after a turnover.
I think that this game will end up much like the 2008 game at Ross-Ade where the last team with the ball and time wins the game. Of course I always have hope heading into gameday so I may be way off. I really think that Sean Robinson is getting better each week. If his line can give him time he should be able to get some yards. The only question I have this week is how many total points will be scored? Will this game get over 100? I think that it would be a stretch for Purdue to score over 40 in regulation so I hope that the final tally is a lower one.
On a side note freshman O.J. Ross who was originally reported as being lost for the season could be back as early as next week at Michigan State. I think I would save him for a shot at Indiana though. No sense getting him hurt again by rushing him back. That is good news for Ross though.
History - I have seen the Wolverines play five times, and amazingly I have seen them lose three of those games. Purdue is 2-2 against Michigan when I attend, and 2-1 at home. Here are the games that I have seen Michigan involved in (as the date is hyperlinked if I have attended a game):
- 10/7/2000 Purdue 32 – #6 Michigan 31
- 10/13/2001 #12 Michigan 24 – #17 Purdue 10
- 9/14/2002 Notre Dame 25 – Michigan 23
- 10/19/2002 #11 Michigan 23 @ Purdue 21
- 11/1/2008 Purdue 48 – Michigan 42
Predictions - I need to pick it up a little to get above 85% for the season. This week outside of a couple Big Ten games I don’t think that the picks are too easy. Of course the Big Ten games that I think are in the bag I will probably lose. I am picking Purdue so the Boilers have to step it up to bail me out. My upset pick of the week is the ‘Ol Ball Coach going back to Florida and pulling out a win. I also think that Notre Dame is in trouble. Utah is going to be upset, and looking for someone to pay. I think they will find it in the Irish. Here are my picks for this week:
- #13 Iowa 34 – Northwestern 20
- #7 Wisconsin 42 – Indiana 28
- Illinois 37 – Minnesota 18
- #9 Ohio State 32 – Penn State 24
- #14 Utah 38 – Notre Dame 20
- #8 Nebraska 52 – Kansas 10
- #12 Alabama 33 – #19 Mississippi State 17
- #23 South Carolina 31 – Florida 28
- #17 Missouri 34 – #24 Kansas State 27
- Purdue 38 – Michigan 37