The Michigan Wolverines are looking to become the first team in program history to go 13-0 in a single season, as they prepare for the Purdue Boilermakers tonight in the 2022 Big Ten Championship Game.
The Maize n Brew staff are back to put some predictions on paper in this week’s roundtable.
Michigan is coming off a 45-23 bludgeoning of Ohio State in Columbus on Saturday, going 12-0 for the first time since 1997. Do you think the win on Saturday is a program-changer moving forward?
Von Lozon: It most definitely can and will change the program for the immediate and, potentially, long-term. The ramifications it has already had in recruiting — specifically the state of Ohio — is insane. National pundits that have routinely bagged Harbaugh and Michigan in the past (Finebaum) are now singing praises for the Wolverines. This win in Columbus is a HUGE deal and cannot be overstated enough.
Andrew Bailey: The win on Saturday is validation that last year was the “beginning” as Harbaugh so eloquently mentioned in his presser following the victory in Ann Arbor. Excuses — as flimsy as they may be — can be made for losing one game (fluke, flu, lack of focus, snow), but after losing two games, there are no more excuses.
Zach Breininger: Normally, I’d caution Michigan fans to pump the breaks, but how they completely dismantled the Buckeyes in the second half tells me the Wolverines are here to stay. I’d even go as far as GUARANTEEING that Michigan will beat Ohio State next year — if J.J. McCarthy starts for the Wolverines. I encourage our readers to look up J.J. McCarthy’s history with Ryan Day and Ohio State’s next quarterback for my reasoning.
Matt Eifert: Absolutely. I’ll be the first to admit I questioned whether Harbaugh should stay during the 2020 season. Two years later and he has completely erased those doubts. The 2021 win over Ohio State was understandably huge, but the 2022 win provided Michigan with staying power in my eyes. If some recruiting wins follow the big wins on the field, the program should become a CFP mainstay for years to come.
Dan Plocher: Absolutely. There was a quarterback that played for Ohio State that never beat Michigan. There is an OSU class on the verge of never beating the Wolverines. How long were Michigan players tortured by this? The mentality of both sides has completely changed now and with the game being in the Big House in ‘23 it will only make the task more daunting.
Michigan turns its attention to Purdue, a solid 8-4 squad representing the Big Ten West. What scares you the most about this Boilermaker team?
Von Lozon: Their “Spoilermaker” ability really frightens me. Jeff Brohm is an offensive mastermind, so he will likely have a couple plays up his sleeve that make you go “damn...good play call.” Purdue isn’t a slouch, and Michigan should not walk into Lucas Oil Stadium on Saturday believing that. You can’t underestimate Purdue.
Andrew Bailey: Head coach Jeff Brohm is 3-0 against top-three opponents and the Boilermakers seem to always play in the weirdest of games. The Syracuse loss they suffered early on made no sense, but neither did their victory over Illinois. Purdue — for better or worse — is a team that thrives in chaos, and that can be worrisome.
Zach Breininger: Aidan O’Connell and Charlie Jones’ chemistry. The Spoilermakers could make this a game if those two are dialed in.
Matt Eifert: Purdue has nothing to lose. No one expects anything out of them in this game. Last season, Michigan was able to ride the emotional high through the Big Ten Championship, but will they be able to sustain those emotions against a very overmatched Purdue squad?
Dan Plocher: They play up to their competition under Jeff Brohm. He’s pulled off David vs Goliath upsets in the past and he’ll have his guys ready to give the Wolverines their best shot.
If Blake Corum is unavailable for tonight’s game, Michigan fans should feel at ease considering last week’s game. Would you expect the Wolverines to air it out as much again, or rely on Donovan Edwards/C.J. Stokes in the run game?
Von Lozon: I’d expect a healthy dose of Edwards, with a little Stokes mixed in, but I also don’t think the Wolverines will be afraid to toss the pigskin a bit more. McCarthy, very likely, has a ton of confidence coming out of that OSU game. He thrives off big moments, and he rose to the occasion last weekend. I suspect he will be amped to do that again, so look for McCarthy to ball out.
Andrew Bailey: I expect the Wolverines to test the interior of the Purdue defense to begin the game, especially if Purdue is without a starting defensive tackle. Once the Boilermakers counter to load the box, expect quarterback J.J. McCarthy to let it loose against man coverage.
Zach Breininger: Donovan “The Don” Edwards deserves a rest. My man played with a broken broken hand and still rushed for 200+. Both he and Blake need to be healthy if Michigan is to win the natty. Plus, the proverbial genie is out of the bottle with Michigan’s passing attack. Everyone knows J.J. can sling it with the best of them now, so there’s no sense in holding it back. Therefore, I think we can expect a pass-focused offensive game plan.
Matt Eifert: At the end of the day, Harbaugh is going to Harbaugh. He’s going to run the ball and then run it again. Against Ohio State, J.J. McCarthy aired the ball out because that’s what the defense gave him. Purdue will likely not stack the box as much as Ohio State did, so Harbaugh will respond by running the ball time and time again.
Dan Plocher: Michigan knows they are the superior team — last year when they unloaded the playbook against Iowa, we saw how fun that can be. I expect plenty of trick plays that pick up big yardage and little reliance on the run game until late.
Throw down one bold prediction for tonight’s game.
Von Lozon: J.J. McCarthy had a career-high four touchdowns last week against Ohio State, and I think has another strong performance with four more touchdowns.
Andrew Bailey: Michigan’s defense scores in this one.
Zach Breininger: I’d just like to say that my 2+ picks from Stroud prediction came to fruition in The Game, so I’m going BOLD with this one. J.J. launches six passing touchdowns.
Matt Eifert: CJ Stokes will have two rushing touchdowns as Harbaugh tries to sit as many injured players as he can get away with.
Dan Plocher: We see another non-QB pass for a touchdown. It’s Harbaugh’s favorite kitchen sink play. I’ll say it’s from Ronnie Bell on a fake sweep where he hits Colston Loveland or Luke Schoonmaker.
The final score will be...
Von Lozon: I got Michigan winning its second consecutive Big Ten Championship by a score of 38-20.
Andrew Bailey: 38-13, Wolverines, to become the first Michigan team to ever win 13 games in a season.
Zach Breininger: 49-17, Michigan. Purdue makes it interesting heading into the half, but Michigan pulls away with a couple of bombs from J.J. McCarthy in the third quarter.
Matt Eifert: Michigan 34, Purdue 10.
Dan Plocher: Michigan starts off slow, but really comes on late in the first half and never look back. The Wolverines win, 45-17.