Ouimet Wraps Up Purdue, Peeks At Spartans

Some questions coming out of the Purdue game:<br> Why did Michigan beat Purdue?<br> Why did the Michigan offense sputter in the red zone?<br> How does the Big Ten look overall at this point?<br> And, just quickly, how does MSU look?<br><br> All this and more from former Michigan staffer Mark Ouimet.

Why did Michigan beat Purdue?


Three reasons.
1. Turnovers. Michigan had 1, Purdue 2 -- and the big one at the end of the game. The Michigan defense now leads the country in turnovers created, and in interceptions.
2. Time of possession. Michigan had the ball for 35 1/2 minutes ... that kept Kyle Orton on the bench for a good period of time.
3. Third down conversions ... Purdue was only 3 of 15, excellent for the Michigan defense (which leads the Big Ten in lowest 3rd down conversions allowed) ... U-M was 6 of 18, which isn't great, but better than 3 for 15!

Why did the Michigan offense sputter in the red zone?


Henne did throw the first half interception as Michigan was nearing the red zone. And mainly, I think it goes back to the freedom Henne has -- or doesn't have. Especially in a tight game on the road, Michigan played it conservative in the red zone. Henne did not have the freedom to check off from a run play to a pass play when Braylon had one on one coverage for example. Coach Carr did not want to risk throwing an interception down deep, and so he was willing to settle for field goals. Carr got into a decision mode where he made sure they'd get 3 ... and then Garrett Rivas missed 2. Rivas is not a typical Michigan field goal kicker in that he does not have a deep leg ... he doesn't boom it. Not yet anyway. SO he struggles a little in the 30-49 range ... he's 10 of 14 from that distance. And he does kick it a little low -- and so he's also had a couple blocked.

Henne and Michigan will improve in the red zone as the package available to Henne gets deeper. And they haven't really gone to Braylon in the red zone. That has been a staple in the past -- to throw it up there and let Braylon jump for it. Again this goes back to a freshman quarterback ... they don't want interceptions.

However, Michigan was able to control the ball and, as I said, the time of possession. Mike Hart had a great day with 206 yards. And Michigan had 22 first downs, to Purdue's 13. They just have to improve in the red zone.

Michigan's defense really dominated the field, didn't it.


Yes it did. They got to Kyle Orton, they put pressure on him. And individually Marlin Jackson was outstanding on Stubblefield, and Ernest Shazor played well once again -- he made the key hit to cause the fumble at the end of the game, although Marcus Curry also had something to do with it by cutting the guy's legs out from under him. And Lamarr Woodley forced a fumble and played well. And Gabe Watson once again controlled the middle of the line of scrimmage. Michigan did gave up 4.2 yards a play, which is too high ... and they gave up the one big play for Purdue's touchdown.

The Big Ten Overall at this point


Purdue still has a tough road ahead. They still face Northwestern (that'll be a high scoring game!), Iowa, OSU, and Indiana. OSU will be playing their butts off, trying to get into a bowl.

MSU also has a tough road ahead: Michigan, OSU, Wisconsin, and PSU. They have the hardest final 4 games in the league.
OSU has the 2nd hardest: PSU, MSU, Purdue and Michigan. Again, I look for OSU to play hard against Michigan -- they could have their backs against the wall by then.

If the right teams beat each other, the Big Ten will only get a few teams into bowls ... only 3 are bowl eligible today.

There are not many good football teams out there right now ... and certainly not many in the Big Ten. The Big Ten will struggle to fill out all their bowl spots -- MSU and Northwestern play 12 games since both play in Hawaii ... so those two get an extra game to win 6. Northwestern probably won't get into a bowl games, MSU will.

Just quickly, how does MSU look to you?


MSU has some good players: Matt Trannon, the 6-6 wideout, was a guy we wanted. And Drew Stanton can run the spread offense. And they have solid tight ends in Eric Ktt and Jason Randle. And overall they are a much improved team both offensively and defensively. They hammered Minnesota remember. But Michigan shouldn't lose. Michigan man for man has more talent. Michigan's defense should be able to handle the MSU offense and Stanton. And I don't know how the Spartans will be able to stop Michigan's offense.

But they'll be fired up, I promise you that. The first series will be key, both offensively and defensively. MSU -- once they get down they tend to stay down.

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