By the Numbers: Game 9 vs. Purdue


The Wolverines managed to continue increasing their level of dominance by steamrolling the Spartans in East Lansing 49-0.  That was followed by the least restful bye week in history as Michigan is embroiled in a massive media storm and investigation centered on the Connor Stalions’ scouting and recording scandal, nicknamed Signgate.

NEXT UP: vs. Purdue: SP+ 82nd, -4.4

PREGAME SP+: Michigan by 36.1, Michigan Win Probability 98%

Michigan remained atop the SP+ rankings while idle.  Purdue is kicking off a rebuild after Jeff Brohm left for Louisville. Ryan Walters, the former defensive coordinator for Illinois, has taken over as head coach.  

Michigan Offense (7th) vs. Purdue Defense (65th) 

Walters has a defensive scheme that was highly effective for Illinois in his last job in Champaign.  The main challenge of installing the system during this rebuild at Purdue is the heavy reliance on man-to-man coverage by the secondary.  The Boilermakers think they have found talented players who can thrive on an island in coverage, but they are freshmen for this season.  I expect JJ McCarthy to have plenty of opportunities to exploit various 1-on-1 matchups for more big pass plays.

Perhaps the run game is more interesting as the calendar turns to November.  The Michian ground attack has been good with a 52% success rate so far this season. But, there is still untapped potential as the best defenses on the schedule are waiting this month.  Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards have yet to shake loose consistently once reaching the second level.  If we’re going to see the increased explosiveness in November, we should start to see a few more long runs this week against the Boilermakers.

Michigan Defense (2nd) vs. Purdue Offense (86th)

Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but Michigan’s strength in the trenches lines up against a significant weakness for Purdue.  The Boilers have some injury problems on the offensive line.  The Wolverines will look to exploit those backups and create pressure that requires QB Hudson Card to make immediate decisions and quick throws.  

While the bye week brought many headaches for the program, the defensive unit needed the recovery time more than any other group.  We’ll see if Mason Graham is still wearing the club on his hand as he lines up at nose guard.  Also, we can get a better sense for who will be rotating into the secondary.  Reports are that Will Johnson and Rod Moore are much closer to fully healthy, but I am interested to see who gets early snaps at the other corner & safety positions.

PREDICTION: Football teams have to be able to bounce back and respond in the face of adversity.  We discuss this dynamic all the time, and the assumption is that the adversity presents itself on the field.  For the 2023 Michigan Wolverines, it seems that the primary challenge for the final stretch of the season will come from off the field.  The players have consistently modeled the right attitude and approach, summarized best by JJ McCarthy: they focus on “keeping the main thing the main thing”.  The Wolverines have to avoid trying to press and doing too much to answer critics and skeptics from outside the program. I think Michigan might face some early rhythm & timing issues coming out of the bye, but once they click we will see more of the same: dominance.
Michigan 40 Purdue 10 (PRESEASON Michigan 30 Purdue 17)


  • SP+ Overall: 1st (same), 29.2
    • SP+ Offense: 7th (↓1), 39.5
    • SP+ Defense: 2nd (same), 10.6
    • SP+ Special Teams: 7th (↓1), 0.4
  • AP Poll: 2nd (same), 1494
  • Coaches’ Poll: 2nd (same), 1520
  • CFP Rank: 3rd

About Clint Derringer

@clint_derringer on Twitter U-M B.A. Sport Management & Communications ‘05 U-M M.S. Program & Project Management ‘18