Michigan and Purdue Battle For Last Place In Big Ten

Jason BarczyCorrespondent IOctober 30, 2008

Michigan (2-6, 1-5) at Purdue (2-6, 0-4)

Saturday, noon at Ross Ade Stadium

Line: Purdue -1.5

Finally, an opponent that Michigan might (and I stress the word might) be able to play with and actually beat.

Somehow Purdue was the sheik pick at the beginning of the season to win the Big Ten and now have fallen into oblivion in Joe Tiller's last season at the helm.

Which is pretty sad. Imagine the Wolverines being this bad last year in Lloyd Carr's last year. Well, they almost were but managed to salvage the 2007 season and beat Florida carrying Lloyd off into the sunset.

There's almost no chance of that for Tiller who is one of the winningest coaches in Purdue history and dug them out of the cellar.

Instead Purdue and Michigan will play Saturday to not finish in last place in the Big Ten, which is so weird to say.

Normally battles like this are reserved for the Indiana/Northwestern game.

Ross Ade Stadium, one of the tougher places to play in the Big Ten, has been littered with fans with bags over their heads.

I'm surprised Michigan fans haven't pulled a stunt like that yet at the Big House.

But this is where we're at folks and as much as I want to quit writing about Wolverines football I guess I have to forge ahead and stick with it. Needless to say, I'm pretty disenfranchised right now and falling into a deep depression.

Let's breakdown the matchups.

Michigan Pass Offense vs. Purdue Pass Defense

The only good news about Michigan's pass offense from last week was that the "Human White Flag" never entered the game.

But that's pretty much it.

Ricky "Wild Thing" Vaughn was more accurate in spring training than Steven Threet is and if hasn't been fixed by this point in the season it will never be corrected.

Maybe Threet needs some glasses like Vaughn did. I doubt it though.

Martavious Odoms continues to be the best wide receiver Michigan has but Rich Rodriguez needs to quit sending him on wheel routes as everyone in the league now knows its coming.

Sad thing is though, as Michigan's leading receiver Odoms only as 329 yards for the season and zero touchdowns.

I'm not ripping him down, he's a fine receiver, but those numbers are sad for a leading receiver at Michigan.

Purdue's pass defense ranks 75th in in pass defense in the country and it looks like the Boilermakers two best in the secondary are David Pender and Brandon King. Combined they have 14 pass breakups.

Since the Illinois game, the Wolverines pass protection has been awful. Before that game Michigan had only allowed five sacks. Since then that total has reached 15.

The Boilermakers pass rush is pretty decent too collecting 19 sacks with nine coming from Mike Neal and Alex Magee.

Advantage: Purdue

Michigan Run Offense vs. Purdue Run Defense

Sam McGuffie appears to be out after suffering a concussion against Michigan State so that leaves Michigan with Brandon Minor.

Minor did great against Penn State but was no where to be found last week against the Spartans.

With McGuffie out hopefully fans will see more of Michael Shaw like some have been wondering about. Maybe even some Kevin Grady mixed in.

Michigan ranks 70th averaging 133.7 yards a game while Purdue is 92nd giving up 175.6 yards per game.

If Minor has a big game and keeps the defense off the field, Michigan should be able to put itself in a position to get its third win of the season.

Purdue's top tackler is Anthony Heygood with 79 tackles including five for a loss.

Advantage: Michigan

Purdue Pass Offense vs. Michigan Pass Defense

This was suppose to be Purdue's strength this season but Curtis Painter has vastly underachieved averaging just 220 yards a game with six touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

Painter looks like he's out for Saturday's game with Justin Siller as his replacement.

With Painter, Purdue ranks 37th in the country and who knows what this Siller guy is capable of.

Michigan's pass defense is the worst I've ever seen it and Stevie Brown is the main source of most Wolverines fans misery.

Coming in at 101st in the country the Michigan secondary is in dire straits. Donovan Warren still hasn't had a break through performance and Morgan Trent is regressing each and every week.

Rodriguez has talked about putting three defensive backs on the field at all times with Boubacar Cissoko being the third but I'm not sure that'll make much of a difference.

Cissoko has been impressive but he's still a freshman who makes a lot of freshman mistakes.

Purdue meanwhile has four wide receivers who average more than 10 yards per reception. Michigan has been unable to stop big plays, especially on third downs.

Advantage: Purdue

Purdue Run Offense vs. Michigan Run Defense

Michigan's supposed big strength this year has also been one of it's biggest weaknesses.

Luckily, no one is scared of Kory Sheets and Purdue's 97th ranked rushing offense that averages 3.9 yards per carry and 116.3 per game.

Michigan should (and I stress should) be able to slow down the Boilermakers run game enough for the secondary to get some extra help in pass defense.

Terrance Taylor has been a monster in the middle and Brandon Graham is even better. Wolverines fans better be praying he sticks around for his senior season.

Those two are the only bright spots on this team this season and the only ones I can see having a future in the NFL.

Advantage: Michigan

Special Teams

K.C. Lopata didn't get the chance to blow the game last week but he might be able to this week. We all know he's capable of it.

Purdue kickers Chris Summers and Carson Wiggs have been awful combining to go 10-for-18 on field goal attempts.

With McGuffie out, Michigan will turn to a rotation of punt and kickoff returners which scares me given everyone's tendencies to fumble the ball but I think they've finally cured that problem (knock on wood).

Advantage: Michigan

Final Thoughts

A win will put to rest any thoughts of finishing at the very bottom of the Big Ten and provide just a little bit of relief for me.

A loss will make me even more depressed and might cause me to stop writing these previews and recaps in favor of more columns.

I don't see Michigan losing especially if Painter misses the game though.

Prediction: Michigan 27, Purdue 21


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