Michigan Football: Key Questions Facing Big Blue Heading into Matchup vs. Purdue

Patrick Clarke@@_Pat_ClarkeCorrespondent IOctober 4, 2012

ANN ARBOR, MI - SEPTEMBER 15:  Denard Robinson #16 of the University of Michigan Wolverines leads his team to the field before a Big Ten College football game against the Univerity of Massachusetts Minutemen at Michigan Stadium on September 15, 2012 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images)
Dave Reginek/Getty Images

The Michigan Wolverines don't need to worry about earning a BCS bowl bid, or even getting back into the AP Top 25 rankings.

Instead, Brady Hoke's football team must concentrate on righting the ship in a must-win game this weekend at Purdue. After all, not long ago Michigan was considered to be the No. 8 team in the country.

It's safe to say at this point that the Wolverines are searching for answers, and so are we. 

Here we take a look at the key questions facing Michigan this weekend in West Lafayette, Ind.


Can Michigan Win Away from Home?

Michigan's only two wins this season have come at home in Ann Arbor. The Wolverines topped Air Force in Week 2 and then trounced UMass the following week. 

However, as soon as Brady Hoke's squad leaves Michigan, the problems begin. Michigan was drubbed by Alabama in its season opener at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, and then fell flat in South Bend against the rival Notre Dame, scoring just six points in the loss. 

These road struggles date back to last season for Michigan, though. The Wolverines went 2-2 in four regular season road games last season, while going undefeated at home. One of the road losses came at Iowa, a defeat no one saw coming. 

No offense to Purdue, but a Wolverines' loss on Saturday afternoon would qualify as a defeat no one saw coming.


Will Denard Robinson Continue to Play Reckless?

Senior quarterback and preseason Heisman Trophy candidate Denard Robinson has more interceptions than touchdown passes through Michigan's first four games of 2012—not good.

Interceptions have always been a concern when it comes to  Robinson's game, but it has never been this bad to start. The Florida native is on pace to toss 24 picks this season, that's nearly as many as he's thrown over the past two seasons combined. 

Robinson has thrown an interception in each of the Wolverines' four games this season, but a combined six in their two losses to Alabama and Notre Dame. If Robinson's carelessness continues, Michigan will be returning home from West Lafayette 2-3.


Will the Wolverines' Defense Return to Form?

Michigan's defense was incredible a season ago, allowing just over 17 points per game and holding Virginia Tech to only 20 points in its overtime win in the Sugar Bowl. 

In Greg Mattison's second year as defensive coordinator, the Wolverines have experienced a significant drop off. Of course, it never helps when you lose talented seniors and big-time contributors over the summer.

This year, however, Mattison's defensive crew ranks just 54th in the nation in scoring defense, surrendering 23 points per game. The good news for Michigan fans, the Wolverines have only allowed 13 points in each of their last two games. 

If it can hold Purdue to 13 points on the road this weekend, expect Michigan to win its first Big Ten matchup of the season in blowout fashion. Otherwise, it will be a long day for Big Blue on the road. 


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