for the name and avatar. honestly.
|WHAT||Michigan vs Purdue|
|WHERE||Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI|
|WHEN||12:00 EST, November 6th, 2009|
|THE LINE||Michigan -6|
|TELEVISION||Nationwide on BTN|
|WEATHER||Sunny, dry, mid-50s|
So, a bird dropped a baguette on the Large Hadron Collider, causing it to overheat. This is the thousandth thing that has gone wrong with the LHC in the past six months. A couple weeks ago some scientists suggested that the LHC could never be activated because the creation of a Higgs Boson—the thing the LHC strives to create—would not only destroy the universe but retroactively destroy the universe. Therefore the LHC's problems were an inevitable consequence of having a universe and that the universe would prevent the LHC from ever operating in order to protect itself. In effect, they argued that the Higgs boson was preventing itself from ever generating itself from the future. They were serious about this.
Theory: you can create the Higgs boson by combining three things: Rich Rodriguez, a Michigan windbreaker, and a bowl game.
Run Offense vs. Purdue
The issues that cropped up when David Molk got injured are likely to compound this weekend. Perry Dorrestein, who drew into the lineup when Molk went out, wasn't listed on the injury report this week but missed some time against Illinois with a back injury, and midweek his availability was in question:
“(His back problem) has been ongoing,” Rodriguez said. “He's been fighting it every week, and it flared up a little with him in last week's ballgame. He's been battling that the last couple weeks, really."
Patrick Omameh would replace Dorrestein if he can't go. Mark Huyge would kick out to tackle and Omameh would play RG. Omameh did okay in his first shot at playing time but is a redshirt freshman and a backup for a reason. That would probably ding the running game farther.
The Illinois stats are pretty ugly and the goal line stand that will live in infamy is the item that lingers in everyone's mind, but the running game has played a fair number of stiff defenses this year and done well; the Illinois game is an outlier. A scary, terrible outlier against a team that had been horrible against the run, but an outlier. Well, mostly an outlier: Michigan State also shut down Michigan's ground game. The running game was effective against Penn State and Iowa, however, and gets Brandon Minor back from his overwhelming ennui. Mike Shaw, who missed the Illinois game with a knee sprain, also returns.
Purdue, meanwhile, is a bad rush defense. They're 88th nationally and just finished having their head caved in by John Clay and a zillion other Badgers—Wisconsin ran for 266 yards on 53 carries. The week before, Mikel Leshoure ripped off a 65-yard run and Illinois picked up 180 yards on 37 carries. The week before that, Purdue totally annihilated Ohio State. Yeah, that doesn't make any sense. But over the course of the season Purdue has proven itself pretty terrible.
Obvious riposte: so had Illinois. The Illinois game shouldn't be weighted too heavily—losing Minor meant Brown was forced into a lot of sub-optimal situations and Michigan lost its most effective runner by far—but it must be weighted. Michigan now has three good rushing performances in the Big Ten (Indiana, Penn State, Iowa) but no great ones—the long stuff has disappeared since the Indiana game. They also have two bad ones.
Purdue blogs say they're extremely susceptible to up-the-middle pounding…
As boilerdowd noted to me, UM is not a rough and tough team. They're a little more finesse. And if they play that way, Purdue can own 'em. However, if they punch Purdue in the mouth early, like Northern Illinois and Wisconsin did, Purdue may run away whimpering like my dog when I get mad.
…and say that Michigan is not a team to pound you, which is weird but on the radio Monday I argued with a guy who thought the problem with Rich Rodriguez was that he didn't run the ball enough and that running "side to side" gets people hurt. People think things and retroactively come up with reasons for them.
If Minor's back and healthy and Omameh can slot in this should be an effective, if uninspiring, day on the ground, with Minor getting 100 yards on 20 or so carries and other people chipping in to get Michigan near 200.
Key Matchup: Brandon Minor versus His Overpowering Ennui. His ankle has been sprained since the 2007 Purdue game.
Pass Offense vs. Purdue
Purdue's got a good pass efficiency defense, which I do not understand as a thing that is possible but there it is: 25th nationally. Their pass defense is 34th. Some of that has to do with the run defense. Scott Tolzien attempted all of 13 passes last week, and Adam Weber's preposterous stat line from a 35-point output was 5 of 9 for 74 yards and two interceptions. Um.
On the other hand, Jimmy Clausen had what was probably his worst game of the year against Purdue:
There was some severe turf toe involved there, but Clausen would need one foot and half a hand to shred Michigan's secondary.
Purdue's also 25th in sacks, and Michigan's shuffling the offensive line again or playing a guy who was hurt and pretty poor against Illinois. This does not seem like a good matchup after Tate Forcier's last month of football and the problems the right side of the line's had in pass protection. Bonus negative: Martavious Odoms is definitely out for the second straight week. While Roy Roundtree had a nice day against Illinois, he lacks the quicks Odoms has on bubble screens and whatnot.
Forcier did have a nice day against Illinois but remains plagued with freshman inconsistencies and happy feet; this will be a secondary option given Purdue's apparent lack of run defense.
Key Matchup: This
UPDATE: …um, this nefangled offensive line pass protecting again.
Run Defense vs. Purdue
Purdue's Robert Bolden started the year off hot but as the competition has gotten better the Purdue run game has fallen off:
These numbers correspond well to the quality of the opponent rush defense, and are uniformly terrible except for the Illinois bludgeoning. Purdue's early cupcake indicators have given way to the reality that the rushing game can't move the ball at all against quality teams.
Michigan, all you are well aware, is not a quality team. They languish 85th in rushing defense after taking a hammering from Illinois last week; the week before that Penn State racked up a bit over four yards per carry. Michigan's main issues have been terrible linebacker and safety play that causes good work from the defensive line to go to waste, and Robert Bolden is a fast bugger if you screw up like that.
On the plus side, Michigan did do good-to-excellent jobs on the two rushing-deficient Big Ten teams they went up against before the last two debacles. Purdue is evidently a rushing-deficient Big Ten team. Illinois played straight into their weaknesses, too: confusion, inability to maintain their assignments, safeties who have religious proscriptions against containing Juice Williams. Purdue's got a pocket passer and an run game that isn't nearly as good at getting really fast guys in open space one-on-one with guys who might well be chasing someone who doesn't have the ball. The numbers should come down, with an error here and there springing Bolden for a long run or two between a lot of 0-2 yard runs.
Key Matchup: Mouton and Leach versus cutbacks. Obi Ezeh lost his job because he attacks wrong holes all the time and Mouton only has his because Michigan doesn't have many other options. The numbers suggest there will be a lot of fouled running plays that either get crushed or break long.
Pass Defense vs. Purdue
This is where you go "urgh we die" except that Purdue has been crazily inconsistent all year here and it may be a game where Boilermaker receivers drop a thousand passes, as they did against Wisconsin, and Joey Elliott calls them out after the game, as he did after a game earlier this year.
I mean… Jesus:
That makes Denard Robinson look like Tom Brady. But then there's the Ohio State game, in which Elliott was 31 of 50 for 281 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception against the #8 pass efficiency defense in the country.
Which is it? Against Michigan, the probably the latter. Purdue still loves the short dink-and-dunk offense that Tiller deployed so effectively in the early part of his term and Elliott has been moderately efficient running it, racking up a zillion attempts that aren't as accurate as you'd think—58% completion rate—but are as dinky: 6.7 YPA. Boiled Sports on the dinky:
One of the biggest problems that I have with the Elliott-led offense this season is their lack of a vertical passing game. Granted, the simple fact that Purdue's receivers aren't really burners plays into the equation, but, both Valentin and Carlos have gotten behind the defense on numerous occasions this season only to be missed.
Elliott's also had an issue with interceptions, with 11 against 14 touchdowns.
Michigan's got a couple of decent cornerbacks and then hellish confusion all over the field; Purdue is a team that can exploit Michigan's inability to cover anyone with a linebacker or safety with any of their equally mediocre wide receivers—four guys already have over twenty catches. They'll be open, they'll drop some balls to kill drives, they'll be less likely to hit a big play than teams with more explosion at the position, they'll probably still get a couple because Michigan's starting two walk-ons and they're clearly better options than some other guys who are starting.
Key Matchup: Safeties versus enormous long touchdowns. Purdue looks like it will stab itself in the foot often enough if forced to march down the field for Michigan to give up a non-huge amount of points. They also appear to be a team that doesn't have a ton of big-play ability in the passing game unless Michigan gives them the opportunity, which they probably will. Just tackling guys as they grab the ball will be a win.
Hey, Jason Olesnavage and Zoltan Mesko are pretty good. Purdue's guys are not. The Boilers are 104th in net punting, 91st in kickoff returns, and dead average at punt returns. Slight advantage Michigan, I'd say, except that Michigan returners have muffed two punts in the last three games against real competition and let a lot of other punts drop to the turf.
Key Matchup: HOLD ON TO THE DAMN BALL
- Anyone from Purdue shoots into the backfield like Corey Liuget did.
- Purdue decides to catch stuff.
- Minor limps off again.
Cackle with knowing glee if...
- Purdue leaves the sanity at home.
- Forcier can get time in the pocket.
- Suddenly it's next year.
Fear/Paranoia Level: 6 out of 10. (Baseline 5, –1 for We're Favored By Almost A Touchdown, +1 for Why Are We Favored?, –1 for Purdue Hasn't Won Since 1963 At Michigan Stadium, +1 for The Last Year And Half Has See A Lot Of "Since Impossibly Long Time Ago" Records Fall, +1 for they Spread And Throw At Our Weakness, +1 for And What The Hell Was That Last Week, –1 for Purdue Is Thinking The Same Thing).
Desperate need to win level: 9 out of 10. (Baseline 5, +1 for Bowl Game, Any Bowl Game, +1 for And Really If They Don't Win This Game It's Hard For Them To Not Go 5-7, +1 for And I Am Tired Of Talking People Off Ledges, +1 for Why I Am I Talking People Off The Ledge When I Want Them To Jump?)
Loss will cause me to... well, there's damn well going to be an otter picture, that's for sure.
Win will cause me to... start perusing arcane bowl rules in the hope that Michigan doesn't get dragged into the Alamo or something where someone will rain fury on them.
The strictures and conventions of sportswriting compel me to predict:
Does anyone get this line? I know the records are divergent but Purdue is outgaining opponents by 10 yards a game and hasn't played any I-AA opponents. Their nonconference schedule was two MAC schools, Oregon, and Notre Dame. Take away the Baby Seal U game and Michigan is getting outgained by 40 yards a game. I guess they've managed to be competitive until the last couple weeks, but despite Purdue's record I think they've proven themselves a better team over the course of the season. They could-have-should have beaten both Notre Dame and Oregon, they did beat Ohio State, and… well, they did lose to an eh MAC team. And just got crushed, but by Wisconsin, not Illinois.
Purdue's managed to get themselves crushed by making a crap-ton of stupid mistakes. They're turnover margin buddies with Michigan—M is 109, Purdue is 108. They've had punts blocked for touchdowns. They fumbled away the Oregon game. Etc etc etc. They're sort of a version of Michigan that's not quite as bad, despite the records.
I don't want to be over-reacting Straight Bangin' Award winner guy here, but I made a mistake before the Penn State game of not taking Michigan's yardage margins seriously and predicted a win despite Michigan getting seriously outgained in four previous attempts at BCS competition. That streak is now at six if you count Illinois as part of the BCS, which we have to and no one else does.
I mean, sure, Michigan can win if they stop making huge mistakes all the time, but why would that happen now? After the Iowa game you could say "oh, that's just an outlier"; now it's just life.
Finally, opportunities for me to look stupid Sunday:
- 60+ yard Bolden touchdown.
- Shaw gets about as much time as Brown.
- Michigan is –1 in TO margin.
- Purdue, 30-28.
Oh, shut up.
I still think this team is pissed and will come out tomorrow and use some Minor Rage. Michigan 31 Purdue 20.
What if this TEAM decided,purdue is going down?
HELL! I believe in this TEAM... MICHIGAN WINS!
300 yards on the ground.
is that we, for reasons of chance or a departure of the Angry Michigan Team Hating God, uncork a good game, with an absence of turnovers and a sudden ability to cover people.
Absent that, Purdue 36 Michigan 20
We scored 42 point against Purdue last year with Steven Threet at QB. Where's the faith?
as long as we don't see the hook and lateral on Saturday, i will have faith....
If we win the turnover battle, we win the game....given Purdon't's amazing ability to lay huge freakin' eggs in the Big House, i have a quiet calm about tomorrow...
and lost, in a game we left early because my friends wanted to beat the traffic. (I'm a Purdue grad and an Ann Arbor native, so my friends enjoy this for some reason.)
Last year's Purdue team didn't produce turnovers like a bakery at sunrise. Last year's team was also capable of completing long passes.
Good Purdue was used up against Oregon and Ohio State, and in the latter instance everyone was grateful. Bad Purdue has three more games to make an appearance, and sadly (for Purdue) I expect no less. (Please don't lose the Bucket.) Michigan is vulnerable for one of the rare times the Boilers call on Ann Arbor - the 5-0 game was painful for everyone who saw it - but this is not the right team to take advantage. All Michigan has to do on defense is not drop the interceptions and not let the fumbles go out of bounds.
Ralph Bolden hasn't done shit since I don't know when because defensive coordinators figured out that the passing game sucks, so they can put eight in the box and let Elliott throw to the other three. Works like a charm.
But hey! If the game comes down to a 50+ field goal attempt, I think Purdue has a chance.
As pointed out on both sites (I think), it's not a good sign when each fan base declares it will lose to the other. I hope the game is well played and that the better team wins. (Which would be the Maize and Blue. Computers don't lie, except about the pod bay door.) I fear it will stink like, well, things that stink.
I would like this game to hurry up and be over with so I can suffer while the teams lose separately. Watching them play each other when they both suck is really more than I can handle.
so I was completely wrong. I wish it weren't against Michigan. Why couldn't this have come against ND?
Great analysis, Brian.
Jesus, why do I keep having these daytime terrors of Purdue WR Aaron Valentin scoring on a 70 yard touchdown bomb reception then celebrating and smiling in the Michigan end zone with the football in one hand and my still-beating, dripping heart in the other?
Aww man, somebody make it stop!
We have to have some sort of good outlier event happen to us right? Right? Right?
Here's to hoping that we are in Purdue's backfield so much that they don't have much time to do anything.
Can we get muppets if we become bowl eligible?
I thought I would be the only one around these parts who knew the LHC was shut down by a bird and a piece of bread. I was wrong.
Brian, you make us nerds feel right at home. Thank you.
Constructive things I could do between noon and 3:30 tomorrow:
-Go for a run
-Clean my apartment
-Dust off the ol' guitar
-Charity work of any variety
-Stay completely sober
But I won't do any of those. Instead, I'm going to submit myself to three-and-a-half hours of nerve-wracking, gut-wrenching football mayhem, complete with fumbles and dropped passes and bad penalties and blown coverages. The stress will take six to eight months off my life, even though the outcome of this game has no tangible impact on my livelihood. Why do it? I don't know. I guess that's what fandom is all about.
But, it's all worth it if they win. And if they lose, well, that is just UNACCEPTABLE!!
Always predict with heart...
I got more and more depressed as this preview went on.
Kind of like this season.
I'm going to go listen to Elliot Smith and off myself.
It will be a good game. I don't doubt that. I also don't doubt that Forcier and BOTH teams are going to make a lot of mistakes. I keep forcier by himself because he fumbled against Illinois without being touched. =/
Anyway, I really hope Michigan wins (of course). I agree with your final score, but I really think it could go either way.
Not my ride of choice. Maybe because I didn't really expect more than 6 or 7 wins this year, I think the team is about where it should be. The game tomorrow is 60 minutes, all that matters is that at the end Michigan has more points than Purdue. Which even this team is capable of doing, especially at home.
weather = good
forcier = return to form
I think the weather today will be one of the most important factors in this game. The outlook is promising, I'm hoping for the best. GO BLUE!
Trust the Forcier we must.
The Jedi mind tricks are starting to work, right?
This is not the dong puncher you seek.
I've been wrong so far, so I'll keep going, UM 34 PU 28, won't watch it anyway because it's on BTN and I don't have it, so I guess I'll just have to spend time with the kids today.
Michigan blowout. I'm calling it now. Everyone negbang me to hell if we lose, but...