Punt/Counterpunt: Purdue 2017 Comment Count

Seth September 23rd, 2017 at 9:02 AM


[Eric Upchurch]


By Bryan MacKenzie

"It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts." ~ Sherlock Holmes

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.




September 23rd, 2017 at 9:36 AM ^

I love Punt Counterpunt.  I kind of miss the days when someone would actually predict an opponent winning, thus actually giving us a counter opinion.  On the other hand, if I were writing it, I would definitely predict a comfortable M win.  My rose-colored glasses say we put it all together and cruise 31-9.


September 23rd, 2017 at 1:15 PM ^

Always fun to read the creative woven writing of these articles.  They remind me of a christmas tree surrounded by presents.  You wake up in the morning and get all excited.  Look at them all one more time.  Shake 'em a little.  Can't wait for grandma and grandpa to get over here so we can unwrap them.  Ohhh...  Look at this one.  I bet that's a Devin Bush.  Oh my goodness I'm sooooo excited!!!!


September 23rd, 2017 at 10:35 AM ^

in opining my optimism about playing Purdue and beating the Boilermakers as a rite of passion, over much of my lifetime, I erroniously contended that I had only witnessed one loss at their hands as a Michigan fan. This is, of course, untrue. Because Purdue has actually beaten a version of the Wolverines under the watch of two of our last three coaches, Lloyd, Rich Rod and Hoke.

I think the worst loss was a probably a home loss to the Boilers under Rich Rod, 38-36, not because of score but because of the outcome. But he also lost one of those games we'd like to forget Michigan even participated in his first year as coach, 48-42, at West Lafayette in 2008.

There was an earlier shootout loss there under Carr in 2000, the same year of the 54-51 Northwestern loss, with Drew Brees at the controls for the Boilers in a year Michigan actually won the Big Ten and beat the Buckeyes on the road, for the last time. That team featured Drew Henson as the team's offensive leader.

So, it is possible when looking back at these things to realize that it is possible to lose under the circumstances of having either great quarterbacks or playing sloppy defense, one or the other inevitably leads to uncertain heartbreaks.

However, when you have a great defense and it plays accordingly whether home or on the road, the likelihood of an upset is severely lessened, either by probability or by historical circumstance. And today, I put that contention to practice in confidently believing this version of the Wolverines (the same feeling that was engendered gameday against Florida on the road) that Michigan defensive prowress will answer the call of victory with the offense and ST helping out as needed.

This my point to my previous counterpoint.


September 23rd, 2017 at 10:51 AM ^

I'm looking for an aggressive run defense being torn apart by GP. This sets up two Issac runs for fifty yards, one of which gets called back for a terrible not-relevant-to-the play holding call (we are still working off our punishment for JH sideline antics from 2015. Especially the punt outside the box demonstration against Oregon state.)

Defense gives up two field goals and a red zone td pass.

Michigan 38 Purdue 13


September 23rd, 2017 at 11:22 AM ^

At least the last 5. One of my earliest painful fan moments was Bo's loss to Purdue in 1976 when ranked #1. I know Elliott had a number of close losses before Bo, including the only loss in '64.

I'm sure earlier cosches did as well--nature of the game.

snarling wolverine

September 23rd, 2017 at 11:06 AM ^


Something I really hoped would happen, happened. Toys “R” Us declared bankruptcy.


You do realize that he didn't declare bankruptcy, but the company did?  Lots of regular employees, who are probably perfectly decent people, will lose their jobs.  He'll come out of it better than all of them.    



September 23rd, 2017 at 11:27 AM ^

Yeah, that's the part that bugs about this almost gleeful reaction to the bankruptcy (which I've also seen elsewhere.) I've got no respect for Mr. "Quit Drinking and Go to Bed," but he's not the one who's gonna take it in the butt over this. The people who are stocking shelves and running the registers are in a lot more trouble than he is.


September 23rd, 2017 at 11:24 AM ^

This really feels like when Michigan played BYU and Northwestern in 2015. Both teams had hot starts but had not played anyone close to Michigan's caliber.
They were fools gold, if you will. I feel like Purdue is a this this year. Sure, they have gotten off to good starts but they are still only ranked 66 offensively, and 71 over all according to the advanced stats at S&P+. This overall ranking is a few spots below Cinci.
The best defense they have played was the cardnals, who were 39th, a far cry from Michigan number 2. People also talk about the big win verse Missouri, well, there are only a few power 5 teams clearly worse than them. Additionally, Missouri's D is ranked 100th.
Purdue will no doubt get some big wins. But this is really not a good matchup for their offense.
I also think Michigan can and will take advantage of their weaknesses on defense by finally open up the play book. This seems like a good week to open up the play action to the TE in the seem. Now that it's big ten season and the offense has a few games under it's belt I also expect more exotic plays to be called that we witnessed over Harbaugh's first two year.
All in all, I see a 42-10 type game here.
Go blue!!


September 23rd, 2017 at 12:24 PM ^

I have zero idea what to expect today. I really don't.

My rational side is telling me that our defense is gonna flat-out dominate, and that Purdue's stats have been grossly inflated by playing lousy defenses. But there's also this nagging thought in my brain that's telling me that our offense has to do SOMETHING today, and won't be able to win with defense alone -- and that's bugging the shit out of me.

I think that a lot of questions about this team will be answered today.




September 23rd, 2017 at 12:51 PM ^

That a post is on here stating glee over such a HUGH bankruptcy. Affecting what? 64,000 people? Some of whom with families that depend on that income just to eat. I pray you are never in a position of power... Ever.


September 23rd, 2017 at 1:57 PM ^

I think the point is that he made is that Brandon failed and made millions doing it, yet again. In fact if you dial up your comprehension skills and turn down the butt hurt, you may see that he is thumbing his nose at the system that rewards such failures. Nobody is happy about anyone losing their jobs. So have a sub and Go Blue!!


September 23rd, 2017 at 4:25 PM ^

Because the write up didn't have to do with the thousands possibly out of a job. It was merely a... Hurray.. Dave Brandon failed again.. Which still. In my opinion is unacceptable. No one will deny Brandons tenure here was horrible. But I'm also sure his intentions were not to completely fuck Michigan. I will assume he did what he thought was best. Although is sucked. So, why root against a person doing what they believe is best? Also why call me butt hurt and assume I lack contemplation? To evoke emotions? To try and be little me? You definitely could have come up with something a little better. Assuming you wanted an honest answer instead of a heated reaction.


September 23rd, 2017 at 5:06 PM ^

Wasn't my intention to inflame you, I should have chose my words better. Just making the point that it didn't appear, to me at least, that the author was taking joy in anyone losing their jobs. Whatever Brandon's intentions may have been he lacked a true understanding of the organizational culture of which, he was in charge of. So best intentions and the road to hell and all that, he was an utter failure in almost every aspect at UM, and it would appear that failure carried over to his current job. Dollars to doughnuts he will get another chance and more millions to try again. Hence the authors point that rewarding failure only seems to happen at the top.

Cheers and Go Blue


September 23rd, 2017 at 12:56 PM ^

I'm afraid in coverage of Dave Brandon MGoBlog somewhat resembles our esteemed president. He can't let go of Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama, MGoBlog does the same about Dave Brandon.



September 23rd, 2017 at 12:57 PM ^

I think people are too eager to overlook what Purdue is doing on both sides of the ball.

We seem to be discounting Purdue's performances vs. Louisville (2-1), Ohio (2-1) and Missouri (1-2) because those teams are bad.

Offensively Brohm has turned the program upside down in short order.

Purdue is ranked 18th in the nation in offensive efficiency, ranked 37th in offensive explosiveness and 22nd in the nation in finishing drives!!  This is absurd even against crap competition like Ohio and Missouri, both of whom Purdue decisively buried, which NOBODY predicted they would.

All Purdue really needs to do is get a lead on Michigan buy two scores and hold it.  Michigan's defense is stout, but in night road games on upset alert, Michigan's luck in refs and penalties-----yeah, we know already how upsets are made possible.

Offensively Michigan is not an efficient team at all (ranked 108th in offensive efficiency) and almost dead last in finishing drives (118th).   It's explosiveness on offense is actually high (ranked 17th), thanks to long runs and big pass plays for TDs.But penalties and lack of efficiency issues have all but negated explosiviness impact on the scoreboard

Michigan's rushing success rate is ranked 98th among 120 teams.  That is not too surprising given Michigan is replacing 3 of 5 along the OL>

Michigan's passing success rate is eerily ranked 99th mong 120 teams. This is unbelievable given Michigan's returning WRs and TEs, phenomenal freshmen WR talent and a RS Jr., second year starting QB.

So I don't agree with those who have the idea this Michigan offense can and will overpower anybody.  They certainly did not overpower Cincinnatti or Air Force as they should have. And they won't overpower Purdue either except maybe on the left side of the line (Cole, Bredeson) on occasion.

That's enough for a team less talented and more poorly coached than Purdue to upset.

Michigan's biggest roadblock has been itself. Exection and penalties, especially on offense.

If it weren't for Don Brown, man. I don't know.



September 23rd, 2017 at 2:04 PM ^

My day job is a civil rights lawyer fighting for workers. I fully comprehend the devastation that corporate decision-making, and bankruptcies, often wreak on workers and their families. My point was bafflement at the bizarro-world that rewards failure. I take no glee in job loss. Cut me a little literary license/schadenfreude slack here! 

Brandon said he won't close stores, and I hope he's right. Chapter 11 is a reorganization that allows them to keep operating. He needs all the cash flow he can get to pay down those debts. I just don't understand how people like him keep getting rewarded.