Friday, October 31, 2008

Michigan and Purdue Meet in an Epic Battle in the Bottom Ten

Number 4 plays number 9 in West Lafayette, Indiana on Saturday. Yes, you read it right; 4 plays 9 for the bottom of the Big Ten. Number 4 Michigan in the Bottom Ten plays at Purdue, Number 9 in the Bottom Ten. This classic game may never be played again.

By NCAA rules, someone’s got to win

Saturday at Purdue either the Purdue Boilermakers or the Michigan Wolverines will have to win.

Joe Tiller has coached Purdue for since 1997 with a wonderful record of 83-54 through last year with 4 wins in 6 bowl games.

This is his final year. The goal was to retire in glory.

Unfortunately, the football fates have spoken. Purdue is 2-6, having lost 5 games in a row. Not how Joe intended to finish his great career. He deserves better.

Rick Rodriquez has an equally great coaching record. This is his first year at Michigan, looking forward to carrying on the great tradition of the University of Michigan football program, joining Fielding Yost, Fritz Crisler, and Bo Schembecher in the Michigan pantheon of football greats. Unfortunately, the football fates have spoken. Michigan is 2-6, having lost 4 in a row.

From the salad days of Top Ten teams, Michigan is now in The Bottom Ten. Not how Rick intended to start his Wolverine career. He will do better.

Michigan must run the string of the remaining 4 games, Purdue, Northwestern, Minnesota, and Ohio State to be bowl eligible. Anything’s possible this year, but don’t bet the Big House on it.

Michigan showed signs of life last week against Michigan State, but 5 fumbles and 2 interceptions were par for the course.

The defense still has a propensity to give up big plays, but the killer is, consistently on third and long, to allow completion of a longer pass. Third and 15 become 20 yard receptions. Teams watch the films and know where Michigan’s pass defense is mediocre (Think the corner backs who couldn’t get the job done last year). The pass defense has let many an opposing QB play like an All-American this year. Fortunately for Michigan, Purdue’s QB Matt Painter is banged up and may not start. The backup was a running back last year.

Purdue’s offense is more anemic than Michigan’s. It has scored in single digits in three of the last four games, and didn’t reach the endzone in two of the games.

If true to form, Purdue’s offense will have a breakout game.

The last four games at Purdue have been split 2-2, with a total of 11 points deciding the four games.

Did I mention that Joe must really want this game bad. Shortly before the National Letter of Intent Day last February, Rick signed Roy Roundtree, who had previously orally committed himself to Purdue. Tiller complained about the violation of a gentlemen’s agreement not to poach. Funny, no other Big Ten coach professed to know anything about it.

Tiller called Rodriquez “a guy in a wizard hat selling snake oil.”

Apparently, they have kissed and made up, because both laugh about and profess true friendship.

Let’s cancel the game, have the coaches and teams meet at a sports bar, and then engage in a boilermaker drinking contest.

Go Blue.

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