The NCAA recently announced that it accepted Michigan's self-imposed sanctions regarding several minor infractions by the football program, mostly involving excess practice time. Rodriguez himself was cleared of the charge of failing to promote an atmosphere of compliance.
On the heels of that positive resolution of the NCAA affair, Rodriguez gave Michigan fans one of the most exciting and memorable victories in the program's long and storied history. Michigan outlasted Illinois 67-65 in triple overtime in its most recent game, and thus became bowl-eligible for the first time under Rodriguez.
As the Wolverines head to Purdue, they are on the upstroke following the emotional win, and the essentially good report from the NCAA. A victory over a struggling group of Boilermakers would give Michigan seven wins, move the Wolverines up the bowl ladder, and continue to temper the heat that Rodriguez has been operating under since his arrival.
--WR Roy Roundtree was honored by the Big Ten as its offensive player of the week after setting a Michigan record for the most receiving yards in a game with 246 yards on nine receptions in the triple-overtime win over Illinois.
Roundtree had a flurry of big plays on his record-setting day. On the first play of the game, he caught a 75-yard scoring pass, and his second catch was a 33-yarder for a touchdown. In the first half alone, Roundtree had four receptions for 192 yards and the two scores.
--The 419 passing yards Michigan had in the win over Illinois set a program single-game record. The Wolverines had 262 passing yards in the first half -- another school record.
--WR Junior Hemingway had six catches for 104 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the triple-overtime win against Illinois. Hemingway has three touchdown grabs of 45 yards or more this season.
SERIES HISTORY: Michigan leads 41-14 (last meeting, 2009, 38-36 Purdue).
SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: The Wolverines are dealing with uncertainty at the quarterback position, where QB Denard Robinson leads the Big Ten with 150 yards rushing per game, but he had to leave the Illinois game in the fourth quarter with concussion-like symptoms. He is expected to be available for the game with Purdue, but Robinson's durability is suspect, since knee and shoulder injuries have also knocked him out of previous games. Should Robinson be sidelined, Michigan has a different offense, but not necessarily an ineffective one. QB Tate Forcier filled in for Robinson and led the Wolverines to the triple-overtime win against Illinois with his passing and running.
SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: The Boilermakers have had the heart of their offense removed when season-ending injuries claimed their top receiver, running back and quarterback, so the Purdue team Michigan faces is somewhat limited in its options. Michigan's struggling defense will be best served by living with the blitz and hoping to force mistakes aplenty from Purdue's trio of young quarterbacks.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "They stood in there all game. The pressure got to the quarterback, and that was a good thing to see. We need to be more aggressive at times, and that time it paid off." -- Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez, commenting on his much-maligned defense and how it came through in the final moments of the triple-overtime win against Illinois.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAME: Michigan at Purdue, Nov. 13 -- The Wolverines (6-3, 2-3 Big Ten) will bring their prodigious offense and porous defense into West Lafayette, and hope that the points they put up will outnumber the gaps their defense exposes.
KEYS TO THE GAME: With national powers Wisconsin and Ohio State looming just over the horizon, the Wolverines cannot afford a blip here. Good ball security and some upgraded play from the defense should allow Michigan's superior offensive weaponry to prevail over injury-riddled Purdue.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
WR Roy Roundtree -- With his 246 receiving yards against Illinois, Roundtree broke the oldest single-game record in school history -- the 1966 mark of 197 receiving yards set by Jack Clancy against Oregon State.
QB Denard Robinson -- The explosive and dynamic offensive leader for the Wolverines had to leave the Illinois game in the fourth quarter after experiencing concussion-like symptoms, and he missed the three overtimes. Robinson has been knocked out of three games this season, but he has been cleared to play at Purdue.
LB Kenny Demens -- After making his first career start against Iowa, Demens collected 12 tackles against Penn State. He also is tied for the Michigan team lead with seven special teams tackles this season.
LB Jonas Mouton -- The California native leads the Big Ten with 89 tackles, averaging almost 10 per game. He ranks 20th nationally. However, he's dealing with a chest injury this week.
--QB Denard Robinson left the game against Illinois in the fourth quarter with concussion-like symptoms, but he is expected to play against Purdue.
-- NT Mike Martin has been nursing sprains in both ankles for several weeks.
--WR Junior Hemingway missed the first two games of the season with a hamstring injury, but he has come on to play a critical role in a number of Michigan victories. His juggling touchdown catch in overtime allowed Michigan to extend the Illinois game, which it won in the third overtime.
--OL Mark Huyge started at right tackle in the Penn State and Illinois games, in place of fifth-year senior Perry Dorrestein, who has been benched.
--RB Teric Jones is out for the season after tearing his ACL in the triple-overtime win over Illinois.
--DL Will Campbell has been moved to offense and will play the guard position.
--OL Quinton Washington has been moved to nose guard on the defensive side.
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