Thursday, September 21, 2017

Purdue looks to shock the world against No. 8 Michigan on Saturday

By: Jon Opiela
Twitter: @jonopiela24

Fresh off an emphatic 35-3 win at the Missouri Tigers on Sept. 16, the Purdue Boilermakers eye another critical test as they host the No. 8 Michigan Wolverines at Ross-Ade Stadium on Saturday.

The 32-point victory was the largest road win for the Boilermakers since 1999, but the Wolverines  have yet to yield 20 points in the young season and could serve as the sternest test yet.

“For three weeks, the effort we want to see, the desire, the competitive spirit, we’ve won that battle.  That’s the most important thing,” Purdue coach Jeff Brohm said on Monday’s weekly teleconference. “But because of it, our guys have realized if you do those small things, you can be in games and have a chance to win.”

Purdue’s 2-1 mark has caught the eye of Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh early on this season.

“The team has done a tremendous job. Coaching staff would be an early favorite for coach of the year,” Harbaugh said on Monday’s weekly press conference. “They’re doing a tremendous job. The entire team is.”

Michigan opened the 2017 season with a 33-17 victory over then-No. 17 Florida in Arlington, Texas. Last week, the Wolverines defeated Air Force 29-13 at home as sophomore placekicker Quinn Nordin tied the Michigan school record with five field goal makes. 

Boilermakers quarterback David Blough has emerged as one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the nation over the first three weeks of the season. Blough has completed 51-of-67 pass attempts (76.1%), while throwing two touchdown passes.

“We’ve got our hands full. That’s mainly what we’re focusing on right now,” Harbaugh on how the Wolverines are planning to slow down Blough. “Coming up with a plan and implementing it today in meetings and in practice but a big challenge for us.”

In recent years, Purdue football hasn’t been a thrilling topic of discussion throughout the campus or the surrounding area. First year head coach Jeff Brohm has brought excitement and motivation back to West Lafayette. The Boilermakers have not been ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 poll since week six of the 2007 season and an upset win over the Wolverines could propel them into unchartered waters.

Brohm anticipates plenty of pressure and blitzes from the Wolverines defensive front and linebackers.

“They’re going to show one way and come around the other and their D-Lineman are strong, explosive and strong,” Brohm said.  “They have the ability to go to the quarterback and get there fast.  When you have that, you want to find ways to get the ball out of your hands quick and get some completions.”

Brohm and Harbaugh were quarterbacks in college and eventually in the NFL.  However, their paths never crossed until Brohm was hired at Purdue. 

“You know what, other than meeting him, I really don’t know him well.  He was a little bit older than me.  When I was younger, I was a big fan of his.  Captain Comeback.  Played the game he was supposed to— Tough. Found a way to win. He made plays,” Brohm said. “I think now as a coach, he’s got the same mentality. He’s tough. He likes the old fashioned football of being more physical, pounding the football, wearing you down, winning in that way.”

All-Time Series:

Michigan leads the all-time series against Purdue 44-14 as it has won each of the last three meetings.