Few fans in both Ann Arbor Michigan, and West Layette Indiana expected the Wolverines and Boilermakers to be a deathly 2-6 at this point in the season, but here we are.
Both teams finished last year with respectable bowl wins, Michigan over Florida in the Capital One Bowl and Purdue outlasting MAC power Central Michigan in the Motor City Bowl.
While Michigan lost most of its offensive firepower, Purdue retained Heisman hopeful Curtis Painter. Michigan was expected to at least be competitive with Steven Threet offering promise at quarterback, and Purdue had hopes for a better record than the 8-5 mark it achieved in 2007.
Michigan is on pace to shatter a number of long-standing records, including most consecutive bowl games and most seasons without a losing record.
Purdue's players are trying to give it all for coach Joe Tiller in his final season, but injuries, combined with poor offensive consistency, have led the Boilermakers in the wrong direction.
So here's the game plan...
Michigan Offense vs. Purdue Defense
Michigan's offense ranks 111th in the nation (ouch!), and has been unable to consistently put together four quarters of decent play. To be honest, the Wolverines just don't have enough of a playbook to do so. Every time a new wrinkle is made, the opposition manages to find a way to solve it and the offense struggles.
Purdue's defense has actually played quite well, limiting mighty Ohio State to no offensive touchdowns in their meeting earlier this year. Unfortunately for Purdue, their offense hasn't been able to catch up. Still, they give up a lot of yards and are currently ranked 93rd in the nation.
Purdue Offense vs. Michigan Defense
When you break it down, Michigan's defense isn't as ineffective as it seems. It does an excellent job of preventing the opposition from moving the ball on first and second down, but always get killed on third downs. That, and the big play, has simply gashed open the defense at the wrong times. The Wolverine defense is also spending too much time on the field, and it's starting to wear on the players.
Purdue's offense has been called the "basketball on turf" spread, but as of late it looks like the term doesn't quite fit. Painter has struggled, being inconsistent with his technique and making bad mistakes. Luckily for Michigan, Painter might not be able to play due to a shoulder injury, and backup Joe Elliot is out with a shoulder injury as well.
That means running back/quarterback Joe Siller will possibly start for the Boilermakers...which would be pretty ugly. His upside is a lot of mobility, but he's not the passer Painter showed last year, or even this year.
Advantage: Michigan Defense
Both teams are 2-6 and desperate for a victory. This is Tiller's last season, so the Boilermakers will leave it all on the field for their coach, but, at the moment, it may not be enough. Look for Michigan to run the ball and try not to force Threet to throw any more wheel routes (three interceptions against MSU).
Predition: Michigan 20, Purdue 14.