Michigan Wolverines vs. Purdue Boilermakers
Date and Time: Saturday, September 23, 2017, 4 p.m. ET
Location: Ross-Ade Stadium, West Lafayette, IN
Opening College Football Odds: Michigan -9
Michigan vs. Purdue TV Coverage: Big Ten Network
By definition, it's hard to complain about Michigan winning three straight out-of-conference games by at least 16 points apiece. The competition hasn't been dreadful, and none of the games were ultimately sweats in the end.
But anyone who watched any of those three games knows that Michigan has some serious problems, and Jim Harbaugh has to get some answers in a hurry to avoid the indignation of losing one of these Big Ten games that it shouldn't.
In three games, the Wolverines are averaging 402.0 yards and 32.7 points per game. Again, those stats aren't terrible, but they aren't great either considering how good they figured to be this year. Wilton Speight has been far from excellent, completing just 54.5 percent of his passes with a 3/2 TD/INT ratio. Ty Isaac is averaging 7.1 yards per carry, but he has yet to find the end zone yet this season. Plus, there isn't a receiver on the roster averaging even 50 yards per game. None of the wide outs have more than one touchdown either.
Does Purdue have a chance in this game? If it puts together a strong offensive showing and doesn't shoot itself in the foot, it darn sure does.
The Boilers went on the road last week and put together a whopping 35-3 victory at Missouri, shutting down one of the highest flying offenses in America while possessing the ball for 43:43. They only turned the ball over once and forced three turnovers of their own, and that parlayed with the fact that they were able to run the ball a stunning 50 times led them to victory.
Matchup To Watch
Normally in this section, we key in on someone on offense and someone on defense, but in this case, the matchup that we're watching strictly involves the Purdue quarterbacks.
David Blough played the mass majority of the game against Missouri last week, but Elijah Sindelar isn't going away and is still getting some reps.
Jeff Brohm has been trigger-happy with changing his quarterbacks in the midst of sequences when things don't go all that well, and we're not sure that's the best tactic to take against Michigan. The Wolverines are holding teams to just a tick over 200 yards per game this year, and opposing passing games have flat out been stymied.
Sure, Purdue is going to throw the ball for more than 200 yards in this one in all likelihood, merely due to the number of snaps the team is going to take. But if Brohm can't decide on a quarterback and neither Blough nor Sindelar can get into any sort of a rhythm, it could be a long day for the hosts.
Michigan vs. Purdue Free Picks
We're a little bit chicken to lay the lumbers with the Wolverines, but we feel this is the best way to beat all books. Each of the top online sportsbooks is in consensus that Michigan is going to be the relatively public play, but we find some value in the knowledge that anyone watching Big Blue can't be impressed right now.
If Speight can stick to the game plan and merely keep the Wolverines running fluidly on offense without any glaring errors, they'll be alright in this one. Just like the rest of the games Michigan has played thus far this year, we suspect this will be relatively close. In the end, the defense will get the job done and take advantage of just enough Purdue mistakes to cover.
College Football ATS Pick: Michigan -9 at BookMaker.eu
College Football Score Prediction: Michigan 33, Purdue 17