The Michigan Wolverines could be said to be a Jekyll vs. Hyde kind of team, but that might be ignoring some crucial facts.
On one hand, you have a team that has played well offensively in two games and disposed of Air Force and UMass. On the other, you have a team that just hasn't been able to stack up against their ranked opponents, with losses to Alabama and Notre Dame in Weeks 1 and 4, respectively.
The crux of these disparate performances begins and ends with the play of Denard Robinson. He has shown up to play against poor opponents but has been stymied by the better defenses of the Crimson Tide and Fighting Irish.
Against Air Force, he became the first NCAA quarterback to pass for 200 yards and rush for 200 in the same game. Against UMass, he had 291 passing yards and an additional 106 on the ground. Both of those performances were elite but not held in the highest regard because Air Force and UMass are weak programs.
And then there is the way Robinson has played against the two ranked opponents.
He barely cracked a QB rating of 100 against Alabama, and against Notre Dame he threw four interceptions, finishing with an even lower QB rating of 69.1. Between the two games, he had only a 46 percent completion rate.
Robinson must find a way to step up to his competition.
In addition to Robinson's inconsistency, Michigan has to begin to get more from their featured running backs. Fitzgerald Toussaint has scored only one touchdown and has rushed for just 150 yards so far this season.
No other Michigan back has even more than 53 yards on the season. Though the Wolverines are heavily dependent upon the rushing of Denard Robinson, varying their ground attack will keep defenses guessing, and so far things have been just a bit too predictable.
So which Michigan team will show up against Purdue this week?
For starters, Purdue played Notre Dame tougher than Michigan, losing by only a field goal, while the Wolverines lost by a touchdown. Purdue was predicted by Athlon to post only a 6-6 record, while the Wolverines were predicted to go 11-2.
Going into the season, people would have pegged this as an easy win for Michigan, but Robinson's inconsistency and the lack of variation in the Michigan offense has led to disappointment. The importance of this Big Ten matchup can't be underestimated, as it is a chance for Michigan to make a statement and show they are still in the class of the elite, rather than a mediocre football team that is too heavily reliant upon a dual-threat quarterback.