Preview: Michigan vs. Purdue

Preview: Michigan vs. Purdue

November 3, 2023

Michigan is #45 in rushing (174.3 yards/game) after entering last season’s Big Ten Championship game against the Boilermakers at #5 in running the ball. The Wolverines are #40 in yards per carry at 4.73. Blake Corum (111 carries, 605 yards, 11 TD) leads the way, and backup Donovan Edwards (66 carries, 211 yards, 1 TD) is following behind. Kalel Mullings (23 carries, 147 yards, 1 TD) has missed time due to injury, but reports indicate he should be back this week. Purdue is #83 in rushing defense (153.8 yards allowed/game) and #70 in yards per carry allowed (4.07). They’re tied with Michigan at tackles for loss per game (6.75), led by senior OLB Kydran Jenkins (6’1″, 260 lbs.) with 11.5 tackles for loss and sophomore OLB Nic Scourton (6’4″, 280) with 10.0. Freshman S Dillon Thieneman (6’0″, 205) leads the team and is #3 in the conference in tackles with 74, followed by sophomore S Sanoussi Kane (6’0″, 215) with 58. Purdue head coach Ryan Walters earned the head job after being a standout defensive coordinator at Illinois, but it might take a couple years to get the right guys in place and get them reacting instead of thinking.
Advantage: Michigan

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The Wolverines are #53 in passing offense (247.4 yards/game), but they’re #4 in yards per attempt (10.1) and #3 in passing efficiency. Quarterback J.J. McCarthy is #2 in passing efficiency behind LSU’s Jayden Daniels, and he’s tied for #2 in yards per attempt at 10.6. Only once has he completed less than 70% of his passes this year, and in that one game . . . well, if you count the three balls that landed in BGSU Falcons’ players’ hands, he went 11/13 in that game! Seriously, though, that was a glitch in the matrix. He was 21/27 in his last game and has thrown 11 touchdowns since his last interception. Wideout Roman Wilson is tied for #3 in touchdown receptions (10) and is #65 nationally in yards per catch at 16.52. Against Michigan State two weeks ago, tight end A.J. Barner had season highs for Michigan receiving targets with 8 catches for 99 yards. Up front the Wolverines are tied for 11th in sacks allowed per game at 1.0. Purdue is #64 in pass defense (226.9 yards allowed/game), #76 in passing efficiency defense, and #90 in yards allowed per attempt (7.7). Last week Nebraska needed just 11 passing attempts to beat the Boilermakers 31-14, but two games ago, Ohio State’s mediocre quarterback had 334 yards passing, 4 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. Michigan may not top those raw numbers, but McCarthy could be just as efficient. Jenkins leads the team with 7 sacks, followed closely by Scourton with 5. Thieneman leads the squad with 3 picks.
Advantage: Michigan

Michigan is #7 in rush defense (85.75 yards allowed/game) and #10 in yards allowed per carry (2.88). They have allowed just 2 rushing touchdowns this year, which is tied for #3 nationally. The Wolverines are very stout up the middle with three starting-caliber defensive tackles (Kris Jenkins, Mason Graham, Kenneth Grant) and three starting-caliber inside linebackers (Junior Colson, Michael Barrett, Ernest Hausmann). Colson leads the team with 45 tackles, and fittingly, Barrett and Hausmann are tied for second with 28 stops each. The weak spot against the run was Josaiah Stewart early in the year, but he seems to have improved against the run. No running back has topped 100 yards against Michigan since Illinois’ Chase Brown (29 carries, 140 yards, 1 TD) in 2022. Purdue is tied at #93 nationally – with Ohio State – in rushing offense at 133.75 yards/game, and they’re #102 in yards per carry with 3.72. Sophomore Devin Mockobee (6’0″, 200), a former walk-on, leads the way with 112 carries for 524 yards and 4 touchdowns this year, but he has fumbled 7 times this season. Former Iowa wide receiver-turned-Purdue running back Tyrone Tracy, Jr. (6’1″, 210) has 60 carries for 325 yards and 5 touchdowns. Tracy scored a touchdown in each of Purdue’s first five games, but he has not scored in the last three weeks (which includes a missed game against OSU due to injury). Quarterback Hudson Card (6’3″) is a decent athlete and has scored 3 times, but his 68 attempts for 48 yards doesn’t look very impressive. Up front Purdue’s offensive line is missing two injured starters at tackles, and the two guards are transfers. It’s a patchwork job up front
Advantage: Michigan

Michigan has the #1 pass defense in the country (141 yards allowed/game), and they have the #2 passing efficiency defense in the nation. They’re tied for the fewest touchdowns allowed through the air (3) and they’re tied for #10 in interceptions with 11. Nickel corner Mike Sainristil has 3 interceptions, which he has returned for a total of 150 yards and 2 touchdowns; S Keon Sabb and CB Will Johnson also have INT returns for touchdowns. Michigan is tied for #33 in sacks per game with 2.63, led by OLB Josaiah Stewart with 5 so far. Purdue is #85 in passing yards per game (215.5), #121 in yards per attempt (6.1), and #116 in passing efficiency. Card is completing 59.4% of his throws for 6.2 yards/attempt, 8 touchdowns, and 7 interceptions. Over the past two weeks, he’s 29/64 for 226 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. The leading receiver is Belleville product Deion Burks (5’11”, 195) with 29 catches for 426 yards and 5 touchdowns, followed by senior T.J. Sheffield (5’11”, 190) with 30 grabs for 336 yards and 1 score. It’s an Air Raid offense, but they don’t have much firepower at receiver, so there are a lot of dink-and-dunk throws. It seems like defenses have caught on to the Boilermakers, and even Burks has just 9 catches for 49 yards over the past three games. There will probably be some frustrating short completions in this one, but Michigan should be able to keep things in front of them.
Advantage: Michigan


  • Purdue players offered by Michigan include: DT Cole Brevard, DE Yanni Karlaftis
  • Purdue players from the state of Michigan include: DB Anthony Brown (Milan), WR Deion Burks (Belleville), OL Bakyne Coly (Farmington), K Brendan Cropsey (Saline), OL Ben Farrell (Grand Rapids Northpointe), WR Abdur-Rahmaan Yaseen (Walled Lake Western)
  • Purdue OL Andre Oben is the son of former NFL offensive lineman Roman Oben
  • Former Michigan assistant strength coach Kiero Small is now Purdue’s Director of Football Strength and Conditioning


  • On December 3, 2022, Michigan beat Purdue 43-22 in the Big Ten Championship Game
  • QB J.J. McCarthy completed 11/17 passes for 161 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 1 interception
  • RB Donovan Edwards ran 25 times for 185 yards and 1 touchdown in place of the injured Blake Corum
  • Current Las Vegas Raiders starting QB Aidan O’Connell threw for 366 yards and 2 interceptions, both of which went to Michigan CB Will Johnson
  • Current Cincinnati Bengals WR/PR Charlie Jones caught 13 passes for 162 yards


  • Michigan 38, Purdue 7

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