NCAAF Week 4: #8 Michigan @ Purdue, Preview & Prediction

No. 8 Michigan heads to West Lafayette to take on the red-hot Purdue Boilermakers, who look to give the Wolverines a run for their money and their first loss of the year.

Saturday, September 23 2017, 4:00 PM ET – No. 8 Michigan and Purdue meet in West Lafayette, Indiana for an epic Big 10 showdown. The Boilermakers have turned lots of heads this season and have been one of the hottest teams in the FBS. This will be a very competitive match-up as Purdue looks to take advantage of a Michigan team that is weak offensively, and could manage to pull off a huge upset in front of their home crowd.

Week 3 Recap

Michigan Wolverines – The No. 8 ranked Wolverines defeated the Air Force Falcons 29-13 last week. While the Wolverines did emerge victorious from this match-up, there are many reasons to be concerned about this year’s Michigan team.

Despite putting up 29 points last week, just seven of those 29 points were scored by the Michigan offense on a rushing touchdown. The only other touchdown scored by the Wolverines was on a punt return, and the rest of the points were the result of field goals. Quarterback Wilton Speight had another weak performance, as he threw for just 169 yards. Running backs Ty Isaac and Karan Higdon carried the bulk of the offensive load, as Isaac finished with 89 rushing yards and Higdon with 64 rushing yards and a touchdown. 

On the other hand, the Michigan defense was quite impressive and had yet another strong week. The Air Force Falcons managed just 212 yards of total offense, 168 of which were rushing yards. The secondary was absolutely lights-out, as Air Force quarterbacks managed just one 64-yard completion on nine pass attempts during the entire game. Purdue has a talented offense, so the Wolverines must step it up on offense if they want to leave West Lafayette with a victory in hand.

Purdue Boilermakers – The Boilermakers absolutely demolished the Missouri Tigers last week in a 35-3 blowout victory. The offense and defense were both extremely impressive in last week’s victory.

The Boilermakers’ offense was quite explosive, as they racked up 477 total offensive yards. Quarterback David Blough threw for 187 yards and a touchdown. Elijah Sindelar also got some playing time under center and threw for 85 yards and a touchdown. Tario Fuller was Purdue’s leading rusher, finishing with 19 carries for 90 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Richie Worship and David Blough each had a rushing touchdown as well.

Purdue’s defense was even hotter than their offense, as they held the Tigers to just three points and 203 total yards on offense. Yes, this is the same Missouri team which managed to score 72 points in Week 1 against Montana State. Missouri quarterback Drew Lock struggled against a very good Purdue secondary, throwing for just 133 yards, no touchdowns, and two interceptions. The Boilermakers’ run defense was stellar, as no Missouri running back managed to gain more than 25 yards on the ground. If the Boilermakers can keep up the strong defensive play, they may be able to come away with a victory against a Michigan team with an unimpressive offense.

Keys to the Game

Purdue’s defense – After giving up 35 points against the Louisville Cardinals in Week 1, the Boilermakers’ defensive unit has steadily improved, as they gave up 21 points against Ohio in Week 2 and just three points against Missouri this past week. It will be key for the Boilermakers to contain a relatively weak Michigan offense that has failed to rack up points and struggled to move the ball down the field. If the Boilermakers can do this, an epic Big 10 upset could very well be on the horizon.

Michigan’s defense – The Wolverines’ defense has been stellar all season and is the reason why they are still undefeated and are ranked so highly. Their defense has effectively shut down opposing offenses all season. Purdue’s offense has been impressive and scored lots of points, so there is a challenge in line for this talented defense. As long as the Wolverines keep doing what they have been doing on the defensive side of the ball, they should have a good shot at a victory.

Consistency on offense for Purdue – The Boilermakers have had lots of success on offense this season. They put up 28 points in Week 1, 44 points in Week 2, and 35 points this past week. Nobody expected them to have this type of success, and they have turned lots of heads as a result of their strong play. Purdue has two capable quarterbacks in David Blough and Elijah Sindelar, and a solid workhorse back in Tario Fuller. If the Boilermakers can continue putting up a high number of points on offense, they will continue to turn heads this week.

Matchup to Watch

Purdue quarterbacks David Blough and Elijah Sindelar vs. the Michigan secondary – Both of the signal callers on the Boilermakers’ roster have experienced a solid amount of success thus far. Blough has thrown for 597 yards, six touchdowns and two interceptions, while Sindelar has thrown for 263 yards, four touchdowns, and two interceptions. However, the Wolverines’ secondary has been absolutely lights-out and is one of the best in the FBS. Michigan held Florida to 181 passing yards in Week 1, Cincinnati to 132 passing yards in Week 2, and Air Force (though not a passing offense generally) to just 64 passing yards on one completion this past week. It will be exciting to see if David Blough and the Boilermakers’ passing attack can break this streak of strong play from Michigan’s secondary.

Prediction: Michigan 28-24 Purdue

The Boilermakers will fight hard and make a valiant effort, but the Wolverines will emerge with a narrow victory. Michigan’s top-tier defense will keep them in the game and allow them to emerge victorious. The Wolverines’ secondary will continue their strong play, limiting the damage done by the Boilermakers. This game will not be a high-scoring affair, as Michigan’s lackluster offense will disappoint for the fourth week in a row. While the Boilermakers will put up a good fight, it will not be enough, as Michigan’s defense will lead them to victory once again.

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