Big Ten Championship Preview 2022: Michigan vs. Purdue

Story posted December 1, 2022 in CommRadio, Sports by Connor Fenix

An exciting championship weekend in college football awaits as major bowl game implications and playoff spots are on the line.

Taking a look at Indianapolis, the Purdue Boilermakers (8-4, 6-3) take on the No. 2 Michigan Wolverines (12-0, 9-0) for the Big Ten Championship.

What a story and year it has been for Michigan, now eyeing its second playoff appearance in as many years.

It came at the hands of a 45-23 statement win against then-ranked No. 2 Ohio State in Columbus where the Wolverines rushed for over 250 yards, with 216 of them coming from sophomore tailback Donovan Edwards.

“The Game” appeared as advertised, with the Buckeyes leading 20-17 at halftime. The Wolverines held strong and didn’t lose an ounce of confidence, coming out in the second half to outscore the Buckeyes 28-3, capturing their second-straight win against Ryan Day and Ohio State, and the first in Columbus since the 2000 season.

In a game that has usually been in Ohio State’s favor, has now shifted to Jim Harbaugh and the squad he has built to not only compete with Ohio State, but the entire country.

Michigan has dominated all season long, out scoring its opponents 478-152 including a 41-17 rout against Penn State — a team that finished at No. 8 in the 2022 College Football Playoff rankings, and the only other team from the Big Ten in the top-25.

Meanwhile, Purdue comes into this matchup as a huge underdog. Due to Iowa’s 24-17 loss to Nebraska, the Boilermakers managed to survive the Big Ten West Division but now face a daunting task.

Sophomore quarterback J.J. McCarthy has taken full advantage of his opportunity since being named the starter, completing 65 percent of his passes while throwing for 2215 yards and 17 touchdowns.

Donovan Edwards has been everything Michigan wanted and more since filling in for an injured Blake Corum, collecting 687 yards and six touchdowns — including an 85-yard dagger to put the nail in the coffin against Ohio State.

Senior wide receiver Ronnie Bell’s production has also been adequate, as Bell caught 51 passes for 687 yards and two touchdowns this year.

Purdue, however, has built a reputation to take down juggernauts as it holds a 7-6 record against ranked opponents in the past five years.

This also marks Purdue’s first-ever appearance in a conference title game, giving the Boilermakers a “nothing to lose” mentality heading into Lucas Oil Stadium.

Senior wide receiver Charlie Jones is looking to lay it all on the line, as the 6-foot-0, 188-pounder caught 97 passes in 2022 for 1199 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Purdue is looking for one more stellar performance from senior quarterback Aidan O’Connell who completed 63.7 percent of his passes in 2022, throwing for 3124 yards and 22 touchdowns.

Sticking to the offense, Purdue’s Devin Mockobee has had a decent first year as a starter, compiling 849 rushing yards along with eight touchdowns.

It’ll be interesting to watch how these three will fare against the flashing Michigan defense, with the Wolverines allowing 262.2 yards of total offense per game.

Sophomore linebacker Junior Colson leads the blue and maize in tackles with 34, with sophomore defensive back Rod Moore holding a team-leading three interceptions.

With a +326 point differential, the Michigan defense is young, poised, fierce and has been the backbone of the program for the last few years.

A win would solidify Michigan’s place in the College Football Playoff, which gives Purdue an even bigger chip on the shoulder to play spoiler.

In the wake of championship weekend, Michigan has everything to lose while Purdue is looking to shock the nation as well as shake up the standings one more time before bowl season arrives.

The Big Ten Championship will kick off this Saturday night at 8 p.m.

 

Connor Fenix is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email cjf5726@psu.edu.