Michigan has advanced to the Big Ten championship game for the second year in a row and will be facing a Purdue team making its first ever appearance in Indianapolis. While many key contributors did come back for the Ohio State game last week, the Wolverines are still a little banged up and will need players all across the roster to step up and help bring home back-to-back conference championships. Here are three players that could have big games against the Boilermakers on Saturday.
S Makari Paige
Purdue’s biggest offensive weapon is Charlie Jones, a transfer wide receiver from Iowa who has unsurprisingly seen his usage skyrocket after leaving the Hawkeyes’ offense. Jones can line up all over the field, which makes Paige’s job as a safety important in keeping him in front and preventing explosive plays.
Jeff Brohm is also well known for his trickery and there is no better time to break out some trick plays than as an underdog in the Big Ten Championship Game. Big plays are Purdue’s best chance at moving down the field, so as the last line of defense, Paige will need to keep his eyes clean and not bite on any weird stuff.
LB Michael Barrett
Another dangerous offensive player for the Boilermakers is running back Devin Mockobee. The freshman has rushed for over 100 yards in four Big Ten games and had a 99-yard effort last week. He is also a threat to catch passes with 23 receptions for 217 yards, which is good for fifth-overall on the team.
Barrett will be a good matchup against Mockobee with his ability to cover in space and plug gaps against the run. This versatility has helped him earn a starting role over the last few weeks, and limiting Mockobee will be another good test for him late into the season with the playoff on the horizon.
WR Cornelius Johnson
The weakness in Purdue’s defense is the secondary. The Boilermakers are 10th in the conference in passing yards allowed and opponents average over seven yards an attempt. With Blake Corum likely still sidelined and the coaching staff probably not wanting to lean on Donovan Edwards more than they have to with his cast, this could be an opportunity to exploit this weakness.
Johnson finally broke out for the season against Ohio State with two long touchdown catches. If he can have another big performance in the championship game, a lot of his struggles earlier in the year will be forgotten. A strong end to the season will hopefully propel him to a great senior campaign.