"There are three things that Wisconsin did last week to beat Purdue -- and those are the same three things Michigan has to do to beat the Boilermakers this week.
"One, win the turnover margin. Michigan didn't fumble the ball last week, although Henne did throw a couple first half interceptions. Meanwhile, you can argue that Kyle Orton's fumble at the end of the Purdue-Wisconsin game is what cost the Boilermakers the game.
"Two: keep Kyle Orton on the bench. That means Michigan's offense has to possess the ball and win the time of possession. So the Michigan ground game has to continue to develop. Wisconsin did not get a ton of yards on the ground against the Purdue defense last week, but they kept at it right until the end of the game when they finally took to the air for their winning drive towards the end of the game. They kept at it because they HAD to run the clock as much as possible to keep Orton off the field. And so too will Michigan have to this week. We'll see a lot of Michigan running plays Saturday.
"And three: Michigan has to contain Kyle Orton. They have to pressure him, and they have to keep him from acrambling out of the pocket for rushing yardage. Wisconsin diid a great job of pressuring Orton until three of their defensive front four went down from chop blocks ... their ends stayed out of the game but Antaj Hawthorne came back in. Even after their linemen got hurt they kept fairly good pressure on him. But -- Wisconsin has the best defensive front four in the Big Ten. Michigan has to contain Orton (and they will put a 'spy' on him for when he scrambles), but they will not stop him. So ... not only does the Michigan offense have to control the clock, but they have to SCORE -- in fact they have to score a LOT. So this is "#3-A" for Michigan -- they have to get to 30 points, because Purdue is going to score on the high 20's.
"Can Michigan score 30 points Saturday? Yes. Purdue's defense did pretty well against Wisconsin, but the Badgers are not as balanced offensively as Michigan -- they don't have the passing game that Michigan has. Michigan is developing into a pretty balanced offensive team. So Mike Hart and Max Martin should be able to get some yards on the ground, and if Henne keeps spreading the ball around Michigan should be okay through the air as well. Defenses are putting a safety over the top on Braylon Edwards now, so Henne has to keep going to his other receivers -- but he should be able to do that.
"More on Michigan defensively. Kyle Orton REALLY spreads the ball around -- he goes to 7 different receivers, including, this year, the tight end ... Orchard Lake St. Mary's Charles Davis. So look for Coach Herrmann (Michigan's defensive coordinator) to come up with some different blitz packages from what we've seen so far. And Michigan will have 5 cornerbacks out there at times -- Marlin Jackson, Marcus Curry, Leon Hall, Grant Mason and Darnell Hood -- which does not mean they'll take either Ernest Shazor or Ryan Mundy out either. Mundy played corner last year and is good in coverage, and Shazor will be up in a linebacker spot at times.
"And as usual, the key to Michigan defensively will be Gabe Watson. If Gabe can control the middle of the line, as he has so far this season, that will be key. And Purdue's offensive line is not that great, so Gabe should have a good game.
"Special teams will be important too of course, as always. Garrett Rivas will be kicking on natural grass ... so we'll see how he does there. His missed extra points are all 'between the ears."
"Last year Joe Tiller came into Michigan Stadium with a terrible game plan and laid an egg -- Michigan had their way with the Boilermakers. This year, at home, it will be a different story. So, can Michigan win a big game, on the road, with a rookie quarterback and tailback, against one of the Big Ten's best teams? Certainly this game will tell Michigan fans what kind of team they have this year -- this will show everyone whether Michigan has one of the top 2-3 teams on the conference or not. And this WILL be Michigan's toughest game of the year.
"Will Michigan be up to the test? I, Mark Ouimet III, say YES. Michigan 31, Purdue 28."
Ouimet Previews Purdue Game
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