Purdue (8-4, 6-3 Big Ten) vs. No. 2 Michigan (12-0, 9-0, No. 2 CFP), Saturday, 8:17 p.m. EST (Fox)
FANDUEL SPORTSBOOK COLLEGE LINE: Michigan by 16 1/2
Series record: Michigan leads, 45-14.
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
Michigan is chasing an undefeated season, a second straight Big Ten title and its second straight playoff bid. But the Wolverines come into this game with even more at stake. They’ve won 11 national championships in school history but only one since 1949, that one coming in 1997. A win Saturday won’t end the streak but would set up Michigan for a top-two playoff seed. West Division champ Purdue is making its first title game appearance, seeking to end a 22-year Big Ten title drought. A win would cement the legacy of this Purdue squad and likely result in a New Year’s Day bowl bid.
Purdue run defense vs. Michigan RB Donovan Edwards. Star Blake Corum was having a Heisman Trophy-type season until hurting his knee against Illinois. He is expected to have surgery and miss the postseason. Edwards shredded the Buckeyes defense for 216 yards and two TDs despite playing with his right hand in a soft cast. The Boilermakers, meanwhile, have struggled most against power-running teams such as Wisconsin and Iowa and they must slow down Michigan’s back to have a chance.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Purdue: QB Aidan O’Connell. In six years, the Illinois prep star has gone from walk-on to all-conference selection and now on the cusp of joining Mike Phipps and Drew Brees as the Boilermakers only Big Ten-winning quarterbacks since 1953. But it’s also been an emotional week for O’Connell, who returned home following the division-clinching win at Indiana to mourn the death of his oldest brother.
Michigan: QB J.J. McCarthy. While the Wolverines are back in Indianapolis for the second straight year, McCarthy only made it into last year’s game for mop-up duty. This time, he’ll be running the show and after a big game against the Buckeyes, coach Jim Harbaugh and Michigan fans are hopeful more big moments from the second-year quarterback are on the horizon.
FACTS & FIGURES
Michigan’s 24 wins over the past two seasons are the most in school history. … Purdue has lost four consecutive games in this series but last played the Wolverines in 2017. … When ranked, Michigan is 31-5 all-time against Purdue. … The Boilermakers were 2-1 against ranked foes this season, losing their home opener to Penn State while winning road games against Minnesota and Illinois. … Michigan has won 14 straight against conference foes, the school’s longest mark since a 16-game stretch from 1996-98. … The Wolverines haven’t won back-to-back conference crowns since 2003-04. … Purdue WR Charlie Jones played in last season’s title game with Iowa. This year, Jones has 97 receptions for 1,197 yards, both league highs, and 12 TD receptions, tied for the league lead.
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