Purdue vs Michigan (12/3/2022 – 8:00 pm EDT)
Line: Michigan -16.5
The Big 10 is about to be crowned a champion as the Purdue Boilermakers will take on the Michigan Wolverines for the conference title on Saturday night. Purdue took out the Indiana Hoosiers 30-16 on the road last Saturday while the Wildcats went into Columbus and defeated Ohio State 45-23.
Most people would have expected someone like Ohio State or Iowa in a Big 10 Championship game against Michigan but Purdue came out at the end of it all with an 8-4 record including three consecutive wins to end the regular season. The Boilermakers went 5-7 against the spread during the regular season and 7-5 versus the over/under.
While Purdue isn’t nearly as acclaimed as Michigan, their season deserves credit. They’ve beaten every ranked opponent they’ve faced this season although they lost to Penn State, who is currently ranked but wasn’t at the time. One of Purdue’s biggest victories of the year came three weeks ago when they outlasted 21st-ranked Illinois 31-24. Had they lost that game, the Illini would have been playing Michigan for the Big 10 title instead. Instead, the Boilermakers won and took care of business the following two weeks to earn a berth in the Big 12 Championship.
The Boilermakers have been under the radar all season long on both sides of the ball, especially on defense where their 13 takeaways rank 20th on the season while their 347 yards allowed per game is 43rd in the country. In addition, they’re only allowing 128.8 yards on the ground a game, which is 36th overall while they’re holding opponents to 23.1 points a contest, good for 41st in the nation. On offense, quarterback Aiden O’Connell leads a passing attack that averages 279.9 yards a game, 21st overall, while O’Connell is 20th in the country this season with 3,124 passing yards.
There isn’t anything negative you can really say about Michigan anymore other than how nasty their defense is every game. The Wolverines have shown up every Saturday since early September and blown through the season and are now undefeated at 12-0. Over those 12 games, Michigan has gone 7-4-1 versus the spread but only 4-8 against the over/under.
Michigan had more pressure on them to begin the season than most as they were ranked eighth in the AP Preseason Top 25 poll. 12 games later and that ranking was obviously too low as the Wolverines are arguably the team to beat in college football after last Saturday’s blowout over Big 10 rival Ohio State. Interestingly, of all the games Michigan has played this season, only two have been against ranked opponents with Penn State ranked 10th and Ohio State ranked second overall, respectively. The Wolverines outscored both of them by a combined 86-40, winning each game by an average of 23 points.
Michigan is undefeated because of a great head coach in Jim Harbaugh that has built a great team on both sides of the ball. On defense, the Wolverines only give up a mere 12.3 points a contest, third in college football, and are also third in the country in rushing yards allowed with 84.8 a game. Even more impressive is holding teams to only 262.2 yards of total offense a game, which is second-best in college football. Their offense is fueled by a top-notch running attack that averages a staggering 244.5 yards per game, which is fifth overall.
Free Pick – Over 52
Michigan has been one of the best teams in college football this season whereas Purdue has been good, but not great. The problem with this game for the Boilermakers is they’re facing a Michigan defense that is dominant up front and stingy in the back. O’Connell can sling it but can he get it done against one of the best defenses in the nation? On that note, the Wolverines averaged 43 points a game versus the two best teams in the Big 10, Ohio State and Penn State. Those games also averaged a combined 63 points. While Purdue isn’t as good as either of those teams, they still should put up a few scores in this game. It won’t be enough to beat Michigan because the Wolverines should have no problem hanging a ton of points on Purdue to punch their ticket to the College Football Playoff. We’re taking over 52.