I’ll be honest, I never expected to be able to write this article. But here we are on the eve of the biggest Purdue football game since I became a student and a fan. And everyone everywhere is picking the Michigan Wolverines to win. You’ll have to read the predictions article later today, but I don’t think many “writers” are going to pick Purdue to win. At least one is though.
In what will probably be a surprise for the other Boiler bots (since the whole reason I’m writing on OTE is because of my distaste for overly optimistic Purdue predictions that exist elsewhere on the internet), I’m picking Purdue to win. But honestly, I don’t think this is as one sided as the consensus groupthink is making it out to be. More on why that is below.
Michigan is the better team. Ever since the halfway point of the season, I’ve consistently stated that they are the best team in the conference and they’ve shown that to be true. Nobody would be surprised if the Wolverines won the game. They have the better defense, the better special teams, the better run game. Their coaching staff is full of NFL assistants. Their players are paid more. On paper this shouldn’t be close.
However, on paper doesn’t decide sports. People forget, but on paper Ohio State was the superior team to Michigan last year. There was no way that Michigan was going to win that game. I mean they had lost to Michigan State. What type of poverty programs lost to Michigan State last year? Anyway, just one OTE writer predicted Michigan to win The™ Game and that intelligent individual was right.
It’s not just that I accurately predict Michigan’s football chances. I also nailed the Purdue regular season in my preseason preview. My prediction for those of you that don’t remember: 8-4. With losses to Penn State (check), wisconsin (check), a game in bad weather (check), and one other team they probably shouldn’t lose to (check)... pick someone at random let’s say an orange team like Illinois. Well, I got the random orange team part right, even if the specifics of Illinois being that orange team were wrong. Everything else was exactly correct.
There have been 188 Power 5 conference championship games. In just 9 of those games, one of the two participants has been unranked. Three of those unranked teams won. That’s 33% for the engineers that take shortcuts and don’t care about rounding errors. Yet, nowhere near 33% of experts are giving Purdue a shot in this one.
Fancy stats that show why Purdue should probably be favored
Jeff Brohm Stats
- Jeff Brohm is undefeated in conference championship games. His Western Kentucky teams won the Conference USA title game both times they played in it.
- Jeff Brohm is 8-12 against top 25 teams in his career despite being ranked for just one of those games.
- Jeff Brohm is 7-10 against top 25 teams at Purdue. 7-9 when unranked.
- Jeff Brohm is 3-0 against top 3 teams at Purdue.
- Purdue has 9 all time wins as an unranked team against AP top 2 teams. The next highest program has 4.
- Purdue is 2-0 in 2022 when I’ve attended the game in person. In fact, Purdue football has not lost a game I’ve attended in the Jeff Brohm era. I’ll be at this one.
- Although an East division champ has never lost the B1G championship game, only Ohio State has won multiple times. There is a firm ceiling on how many times non-Ohio State teams can win the Big Ten championship game since we’ve switched to the East v. West format. Michigan has hit their cap.
- No unranked West division champ has ever lost the B1G championship. In fact, no unranked B1G championship participant has ever lost the B1G championship. Unranked wisconsin steamrolled ranked Nebraska back in 2012.
- A Leaders division program has never lost a Big Ten championship game to a Legends division program in a year that all the Leaders programs were eligible to play*.
- The last time the Cannon game was important (2001), the winner of the Cannon (Illini that year) won the conference. History repeats kids. Support your local history professors.
*This stat has big Penn State energy for multiple reasons.
Prophecies, Curses, and the Supernatural
- Some of you may recall our discussion in the comments section about Rutger’s FTC on their helmets from Sunday Morning Coming Down week 6. As I explained then, FTC stands for “Fire the Cannon”. It refers to an old prophecy but no one can remember the origin of it. Said prophecy states that in the future, two bitter rivals west of the Wabash River will have a skills competition with the winner being granted a cannon. The victor will then take this weapon southeast until reaching the crossroads of the land. At this site, they will fire the cannon (or FTC) at an undefeated and merciless warrior approaching from the East and in doing so defeat them and usher in a new era of division-less peace and security for all the land.
I believe that future is this Saturday.
- The Nebraska curse. Every team that beat Nebraska this year lost their next game except Minnesota and Michigan. Minnesota’s loss was delayed merely a week because their next opponent was Northwestern and that doesn’t count (congrats on firing Jim O’Neil). Michigan may have delayed their loss several weeks, but a curse delayed simply becomes more powerful.
- Lucas Oil Stadium sits a mere 2000 feet from the White River. This makes it a perfect Harbor location. The Boilermakers have their cannon to sink Michigan Big Ten ‘ship and their bucket to bail out water while making repairs should they take some early damage.
- Purdue Pete has no mercy. He will be in Indianapolis.
Some comparisons between these two division champions
- Michigan has been playing some of their best football while Purdue has sort of limped in this position the last few weeks. The Wolverines are understandably pretty high on themselves at the moment, while Purdue will be more even-keeled and won’t be overlooking their opponent.
- The Wolverines have locked up a CFP spot and have nothing to play for. Their primary goal will be to avoid injuries. Purdue meanwhile does not have a bigger game looming on their schedule.
- Despite having that CFP spot locked up, Michigan has all the weight of expectations on them. It would be embarrassing to lose to an unranked team. Purdue meanwhile is under no pressure. They can come out swinging and play loose.
- Ryan Day may have been born on 3rd, but Michigan was born on 2nd. Purdue was born down 10 runs in the bottom of the ninth with two outs, nobody on, and facing Randy Johnson with a 0-2 count. The Boilermakers have fought their way here and that fight will show in this game.
- Comparing some common opponents this year: vs Maryland (UM by 7 at home - after the Terps spotted them 7 on the opening kickoff, Purdue by 2 on the road), vs Indiana (UM by 21, Purdue by 14), vs. Illinois (UM by 2 at home, Purdue by 7 on the road). Not that big of a gap.
- The head of the CFP committee couldn’t even remember Purdue’s name (he referred to Michigan’s opponent this week as Penn State). The disrespect being shown to Purdue is substantial.
- Michigan will likely keep their play calling extremely vanilla so they don’t reveal anything for next year’s game against Ohio State. Purdue has trick play aficionado Jeff Brohm calling plays and he has a former QB as his 2nd TE. Trick plays are the great equalizer of college football.
- All year Purdue has played to their level of competition. Whether that was playing with Penn State or Northwestern, this team plays in close games so long as the weather is fine and the evil Badgers aren’t their opponent.
- Lucas Oil Stadium is indoors. No bad weather to knock the Boilermakers off balance.
- Speaking of Lucas Oil Stadium, it is the place where the Jeff Brohm experience at Purdue all began in 2017 with the season opener loss against Louisville. If you were writing the screen play to this movie, you would circle back to Lucas Oil for the big win at the end of the film.
- Purdue is currently on the best stretch of men’s athletics success they’ve ever had. Since last Friday, they won the West division and beat two top 10 teams in basketball. Nothing stops this train - well Hofstra will, but that’s a problem for next week’s Boilermaker fans.
- Jim Harbaugh very publicly complained about the lack of facilities at Purdue when these two teams last played. It’s not our fault that Michigan didn’t bring AC units when they were specifically told that they needed to. And Purdue lacks a medical school. Expecting prompt medical treatment at Purdue is a laughable concept. Purdue will remember Harbaugh’s slights.
- Michigan claims to be the champions of the West in their fight song. Obviously this is not true - they are in the East - but this confusion should help the actual West division champs win.
- Jeff Brohm really wants a new Honda Civic. But as he told reporters a few weeks ago, he needs to accomplish something special before he can buy one.
- The college football world is rooting for Purdue. There are 130 FBS programs and 14 B1G programs. All but two of those fanbases are rooting for the Boilermakers. And since one of those two are really Notre Dame fans, they are probably rooting for Purdue over Michigan as well.
Purdue has a fanbase that has suffered through the Darrell Hazell error. Even before Hazell, I recall staying to the bitter end of the 2011 Notre Dame game and celebrating Purdue’s last minute touchdown. That made the score 10-38. Penn State has more Big Ten championships (across all sports) and they joined up 94 years after Purdue created this majestic conference.
The Boilermaker fanbase has been through some tough times. And yet we’ve persevered. Continued on in the face of overwhelming odds. If the worst was to happen and Michigan somehow won the game - or even blew out Purdue - Boilermaker athletes and fans would not wallow around in misery. Just like when the first mechanical engineering building on campus burned down 4 days after it was dedicated, we would get back to work and rebuild one brick higher.
To your call once more we rally...