For the second consecutive season, the Michigan Wolverines are the Big Ten Champions after conquering the Purdue Boilermakers, 43-22. Michigan is 13-0 for the first time ever and is bound for the College Football Playoff.
Purdue challenged Michigan in the first half, as Jeff Brohm's history of competing against some of the top teams in the country was coming true. The Boilermakers held possession for six more minutes than the Wolverines and outgained them, 202-135.
Much of that was because of the connection between quarterback Aidan O’Connell and his favorite wideout, Charlie Jones. Jones had seven first-half receptions for 74 yards, and it felt like in every crucial moment the super seniors were connecting to move the sticks.
The good news was the Michigan defense halted Purdue’s rushing attack in the first half. They had just 19 yards on 18 carries, but that didn’t matter much because of how efficient O’Connell was in the air. He completed 19 of his 22 first-half passes and kept Purdue in contention in this game. Still, Michigan’s bend-don’t-break defense allotted two field goals inside the 25-yard line to keep the Boilermakers to 13 points.
Meanwhile, Michigan leaned heavily on the arm of J.J. McCarthy. His two touchdown passes in the first half were the difference. The first came on a 50-50 ball to Colston Loveland:
After falling behind 10-7, the Wolverines went on a 13-play, 75-yard drive that put them back ahead. McCarthy found his other tight end, Luke Schoonmaker, for a 7-yard touchdown pass:
Michigan’s problem on the offensive end in the first half was that they weren’t successful on the ground. Donovan Edwards had 37 yards on 11 carries, and the Wolverines picked up only 45 yards. It was eerily similar to their performance against Ohio State last week, as they couldn’t get much going on the ground.
To begin the second half, the Wolverines would get the football and it was an emphasis on punching the ball down Purdue’s throat. Edwards opened it up with a 60-yard run down the left sideline. Then, Kalel Mullings punched it in from the goal line to give the Wolverines a 21-13 advantage.
After a quick three-and-out, Michigan was right back at it. McCarthy found a wide open Schoonmaker over the middle for a 40-yard gain. The very next play, Edwards rand up the gut for 27 yards and a touchdown. Suddenly, the ground game was all in and Michigan possessed a two-touchdown lead.
On the next Purdue drive, two big plays put the Boilermakers in the red zone. But freshman cornerback Will Johnson stepped in front of an O’Connell pass to Jones for what could have been a game-clinching turnover.
But this Boilermaker team just would not go away they forced a three-and-out and then an interception from McCarthy on consecutive Michigan drives. Two more field goals for the Purdue offense would make it 28-19.
After another punt, O’Connell and company had the chance to pull within a point or two. But Johnson jumped a slant route and got his second interception of the night.
It gave the ball to J.J. McCarthy inside of the red zone and on 3rd and 10, he threw a dart to Ronnie Bell for a huge touchdown:
A two-point conversion where the center was the only offensive lineman in front of McCarthy was successful as he found Schoonmaker for a score. The Wolverines gained a 36-19 advantage.
Purdue went down the field again on a 13-play, 60-yard drive that saw O’Connell have another two completions to Jones on third down plays. Still, Michigan’s defense held the Boilermakers to a fifth field goal.
After an onside kick attempt, Michigan’s offense took over in plus-territory. It was seven straight runs on the possession before Mullings punched in his second touchdown of the night as the Wolverines picked up 180 second-half yards on the ground.
Now, Michigan will likely go into the playoff as the No. 2 team in the country. It is up for heavy debate who the Wolverines will play, as both TCU and USC fell in their respective conference championship games. The final rankings come out Sunday, Dec. 4. Keep it locked to Maize n Brew as we will have updates for the matchup and all that comes next.