Who: Michigan (3-0) @ Purdue (2-1)
Where: Ross-Ade Stadium, West Lafayette, Ind.
When: 4 p.m. EST
How to follow: FOX, 950AM, 97.1FM
By PHILLIP LUTZ, Sports Editor
Michigan fans are anxiously waiting to see how the Wolverines fare in their first true road test on Saturday as Big Ten play begins this week. The Wolverines (3-0) will head to West Lafayette, Ind. to face the up-and-coming Purdue Boilermakers (2-1).
The No. 8 Wolverines face their first real test this season in the changed Boilermakers. This is the second game away from the Big House this season, but it is the true test for the young Michigan team.
This Purdue team is not like the teams of the last few years where they were easy to classify as an easy win. They showed spunk in their opening game against the Louisville Cardinals. They took last year’s Heisman trophy winner Lamar Jackson to the brink, only losing 35-28.
The Boilermakers then played a good MAC team in Ohio University, winning 44-21. This showed the resiliency that we have not seen out of the Purdue team for several years.
The biggest test for the young season was seen when Purdue traveled to Missouri to take on a competent SEC team last week in the Missouri Tigers. The Boilermakers opened a lot of eyes with their dominating 35-3 victory.
Boilermakers head coach Jeff Brohm said this week, “We may have to change things up this week and give Michigan something they haven’t seen, because they are really good.”
Michigan on the other hand had its own tests this early in the season as it traveled to Arlington, Tex. to face the No. 17 Florida Gators. Winning the game in non-convincing fashion 33-17.
The offensive struggled early on and the defense was dominant. Wilton Speight struggled as he threw two pick-sixes. The Florida offense only scored three points in the game.
The Wolverines next game was a disappointing display in the Big House for the home opener in Ann Arbor, Mich. They faced a Cincinnati team looking for the upset, which they almost earned. Michigan looked sloppy on offense again but still beat the Bearcats 36-14 thanks to the play of their defense and special teams.
Against Air Force last week, two very good defenses squared off, giving little in the red zone to each other. Michigan’s defense and special teams came up big, as Quinn Nordin tied a school record with 5 field goals while Donovan Peoples-Jones returned a punt 79 yards for a touchdown.
Freshman wide receiver Tarik Black broke a bone in his foot and will be out several weeks after requiring surgery. He may not be able to return this season depending on the recovery time.
This brings these teams to a showdown in West Lafayette, Ind. on Saturday at 4 p.m. The Boilermakers offense is off to a great start with 10 passing touchdowns and 4 rushing touchdowns this season.
Michigan has scored 3 passing touchdowns and 2 rushing touchdowns so far this season. The Michigan defense has 18 points scored on its own and special teams has scored 39 points. Kicker Quinn Nordin has been named special team’s player of the week in the Big Ten two times already this season.
Coach Jim Harbaugh said in an interview this week that all phases of the game would be worked on in practice this week. The offense is not in trouble; they are still undefeated and are working out the problems in practice every week.
This game will show what both teams are made of for sure. Purdue’s offense is humming along behind quarterback David Blough and running back Tario Fuller, but Michigan’s defense looks tough and hungry for more every week. Michigan’s defense is highlighted by defensive tackle Maurice Hurst and linebacker Devin Bush.
Michigan will hope to curb the anxiety surrounding the struggles of the offense by proving its ability on the road. Speight will need a strong showing to solidify the Michigan offense to make the team truly worthy of its AP top-10 ranking.