KICKOFF: Saturday, noon ET
SITE: Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, Mich.
SERIES: Michigan leads 42-14 (last meeting, 2010, Michigan 27-16)
RECORDS: Purdue 4-3, 2-1 Big 10; Michigan 6-1, 2-1 Big 10
POLLS: Michigan (No. 17 AP, No. 17 USA Today)
PREDICTION: Michigan 24-14
KEYS TO THE GAME:
-- For Purdue: Pressure Michigan QB Denard Robinson and limit big plays. Robinson is playing in a different system under first-year coach Brady Hoke but remains a game-changer. If the Boilermakers allow the speedster to roam free, it will be a long afternoon for them.
-- For Michigan: Keep moving the chains. Michigan's best formula for success is to keep its offense on the field for long stretches of time piling up the yards while the Wolverines' defensive unit rests. Avoiding errors is always a priority, but the Michigan plan is one that needs the momentum that mistake-free possessions can produce.
SCOUTING THE TEAMS:
Purdue generated only 75 yards in the second half after holding a 21-0 lead against Illinois. Conservative play-calling and the Boilermakers' defense playing well were factors. Junior QB Caleb Terbush is coming off his best game after engineering the upset of Illinois, going 12-of-16 passing for 145 yards against the Illini. The Boilermakers will need a complete performance against the Wolverines, who have improved defensively under first-year coach Brady Hoke.
Purdue's defense continues to improve, as evident in last week's victory. The Boilermakers are tackling better and playing with more energy and intensity. Purdue hasn't allowed a Big Ten team to score more than 23 points in three games but faces a daunting challenging in playing Michigan and QB Denard Robinson.
Michigan bases its offensive strength not only on dynamic QB Denard Robinson, but more on their veteran offensive line. Michigan has four starters back from the 2010 team, a group that allowed a Big Ten low of 11 sacks for the season. To date, Michigan has allowed nine sacks in seven games. The Wolverines are also benefiting from their explosive capability, producing 37 plays this season that have gone for 20-plus yards.
Michigan's defense was an embarrassed and humbled group following the recent first loss of the season at Michigan State. The Michigan defense got a lot of credit over the first six games for its marked improvement over last season and is allowing only 14.7 points a game, a big difference from the 35.2 it gave up a year ago. But now the Wolverines need a strong showing against Purdue to regain some of that stature.
Boilermakers: The red zone has been a successful place for Purdue this season. During the last five games, each time the Boilermakers have advanced inside their opponents' 20-yard line they have scored. Purdue has 17 touchdowns and four field goals inside the red zone, starting with the blowout victory over Southeast Missouri. The Boilermakers were 2-for-2 -- both touchdowns -- in last week's win over Illinois. The last time the Boilermakers didn't score inside the red zone was in the loss at Rice. Overall, the Boilermakers are 26 of 29 (89.7 percent) inside the red zone to rank 22nd nationally. ... In six of their first seven games, the Boilermakers have put together at least one scoring drive of 80 yards or more. In fact, Purdue has driven more than 90 yards three times for touchdowns. The latest came against Illinois when QB Caleb TerBush engineered a 91-yard, 13-play drive that gave the Boilermakers a 7-0 lead. ... Purdue has generated 58 percent of its points off scoring drives of 60 yards or more. ... Defensive end has become a three-player rotation after Robert Maci underwent foot surgery Friday. He's out for the season. Gerald Gooden, Ryan Russell and Jalani Phillips will be expected to carry the load.
Wolverines: Michigan's defense ranks first in the Big Ten and third in the nation in red zone defense. The Wolverines have allowed the opposition to score only 11 touchdowns on 22 red zone trips this season. ... The Wolverines have scored on 27 of their 30 trips to the red zone this season with 22 of those Michigan trips inside the opponent's 20-yard line finishing with touchdowns. ... Michigan has outscored its opponents 200-61 in the last three quarters and 121-42 in the second half. ... Junior QB Denard Robinson is regularly criticized for his passing, but he leads the top division of college football with 16.49 yards per completion. ... DB Troy Woolfolk, who started all 12 games in 2009 and then missed all of the 2010 season after breaking his ankle in camp, has been slowed by a variety of injuries this season but still has played in all seven games, starting six times. ... DB Jordan Kovacs, a former walk-on, has 42 tackles through seven games and leads the Wolverines with three sacks. ... LB Cam Gordon has missed the first six games of the season with a back injury but is working his way into the regular playing rotation on defense now. Gordon started his career at Michigan as a wide receiver, switched to safety before the 2010 spring workouts, and then moved to linebacker.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
QB Caleb TerBush -- The junior is coming off his best performance of the season and will need another top-level outing to knock off the Wolverines. Purdue's best asset right now is its running game so look for TerBush to lean on Ralph Bolden and Akeem Shavers.
DT Kawann Short -- Short led a spirited effort by the defensive line last week against Illinois. Short had 3.5 tackles for loss and two sacks, setting the tone early. Another high-level performance will be required against a potent Michigan offense.
DB Ricardo Allen -- He had a 94-yard interception for a touchdown last season and will need a big play for the Boilermakers to pull off the win. Allen delivered his sixth interception in just his 19th game last week.
P Will Hagerup -- He will be a very important field position weapon as the Wolverines grind through the final five Big Ten games. In his most recent outing against Michigan State, Hagerup pinned the Spartans inside their 20 four times, with three of those punts stopping inside the 10.
WR Jeremy Gallon -- He leads the Wolverines with 20 receptions this season. His 305 yards in receptions ranks second on the team.
TE Kevin Koger -- He has made 25 starts in his Michigan career and is tied for the team lead this season with two touchdown receptions.
RT Justin Kitchens (shoulder, probable), DE Robert Maci (foot, out).
OL Ricky Barnum (ankle, probable).
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