By Bryan MacKenzie
I know. How can we get all worked up about this game? It's Purdue. Michigan can't lose to Purdue. They're bad. Because they're Purdue.
But what if they weren't Purdue?
Imagine I told you Michigan was playing a road game against a Big Ten team that was 2-1 with a narrow loss to a Top-25 team, a blowout win over a MAC team, and a blowout win over a Power-5 team? And with a conference-average passing offense, rush offense, and rush defense? And whose quarterback is averaging 1.5 yards per attempt more than Michigan's quarterback?
But they're Purdue, right?
"There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact."
Michigan fans know full well the value a new coach can bring to a team. We spent most of 2015 responding to every criticism of Michigan football with "but Harbaugh." And we were right. So is it that surprising that if you substitute Jeff Brohm, a highly skilled and well-regarded coach, for Darrell Hazell, a... uh... not that, Purdue could make a significant leap forward in a short period of time?
At this point, it takes a greater leap of faith to assume that impressive performances against Louisville, Ohio, and Missouri were all some sort of mirage. All of the data we have from this year points to Purdue being a real team. It also points to Michigan being a talented but flawed team. Combine that with the first home game with even an ounce of intrigue since Michigan rolled into town in October of 2012, and everything points to an actual football game this afternoon.
Michigan probably still wins this game. They might win it by a bunch. They have more talent at basically every position, and in some places by a couple of orders of magnitude. But they aslo might—just might—lose. Brohmania is real, and Purdue has left the company of Illinois and Rutgers at the kids table for the mature conversation and real silverware enjoyed by the grown-up Big Ten teams. I know it seems hard to believe, but as Arthur Conan Doyle reminded us, when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.
Michigan 30, Purdue 24
By Nick RoUMel
Something I really hoped would happen, happened. Toys “R” Us declared bankruptcy.
It’s not just that they declared bankruptcy that gives me glee. It’s not that it’s the second largest U.S. retail bankruptcy ever, according to Bloomberg. It’s not even that CEO David Brandon was completely flummoxed by its mounting debt, near $8 billion dollars.
The best part is that Brandon put on a happy face, asserting that “Today marks the dawn of a new era at Toys R Us.” This reminded me of the Night Gallery episode where the boy who can predict future events tells his TV audience that the “world is entering a new age of peace and tranquility, where poverty, sickness and war no longer exist.” But what actually happened is that the sun exploded.
When Bain Capital hired David Brandon to take over Toys R Us, they paid him a $4.25 million bonus, a $3.75 million salary, and offered other incentives potentially worth over $40 million. This was on the heels of his spectacular failures at the University of Michigan, leading to a $3 million buyout. Obviously there is this shadow world out there, like the Matrix, where failure is rewarded and suckers like us are left to pick up the pieces.
Fortunately, Michigan football has overcome the damage done by Brandon’s tenure. This was evident last week, when that little poison pill David left us – a trap game scheduled against Air Force – was handled with aplomb by the Wolverines. In the Brandon era, Michigan would struggle against many lesser opponents, who did not fear that version of the Wolverines. Today, in these same types of games, coaching and defense lead us to comfortable victories even when we don’t play particularly well.
I am confident the same script will be followed against Purdue. Yes, we play a hungry team that fights to earn its pay, like its hardworking namesakes in the boiler construction and repair trades (as opposed to certain CEOs that get cash hand over fist despite failure). Yes, Purdue is resurgent and coming off an impressive win; its crowd will be raucous. But the Wolverines will methodically put them away.
No, we are not a perfect team. But as we’ve learned from video games, true warriors make up for their deficiencies with other attributes – in this case, stamina and durability:
In the end, our hero is a “wild, wide-open warrior willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done.” And he doesn’t do it for the money.
MICHIGAN 29, PURDUE 10