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Game Preview: Purdue Boilermakers vs. Michigan State Spartans

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Ohio State v Purdue Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Well, things are looking bleak for the Michigan State Spartans right now, while the team’s opponent this week, the Purdue Boilermakers, are playing with a lot of confidence following four straight wins — none of which more impressive than last week’s thumping of Big Ten powerhouse, Ohio State Buckeyes.

Michigan State is 7-0 under Mark Dantonio against Purdue, but this season may be Dantonio’s toughest test against the Boilermakers yet, given the Spartans’ injury report and the fact that Purdue is legitimately a good football team in 2018.

It’s time for what you’ve all been patiently waiting for all week long — the game preview!

Tale of the Tape

Michigan State:
2018 Record — 4-3 (2-2 Big Ten)

Offense (per game basis)— 351.6 total yards, 244 passing yards, 107.6 rushing yards,

Defense (per game basis)— 355.3 yards allowed, 275.7 passing yards allowed, 79.6 rushing yards allowed

Cumulative Points Scored (per game basis): 23.43
Cumulative Points Allowed (per game basis): 22.14

Current S&P+ Ranking: 42nd

Purdue:
2018 Record — 4-3 (3-1 Big Ten)

Offense (per game basis) — 514.3 total yards, 337.6 passing yards, 176.7 rushing yards

Defense (per game basis)— 433.1 yards allowed, 294.6 passing yards allowed, 136.7 rushing yards allowed

Cumulative Points Scored (per game basis): 35.7
Cumulative Points Allowed (per game basis): 22.7

Current S&P+ Ranking: 26th


Series History/All-Time Records

All-time head-to-head record: Michigan leads 35-28-3
Last Michigan State Win: Oct. 3, 2015 (24-21)
Last Purdue Win: Nov. 4, 2006 (17-15)
Michigan State all-time record: 698-456-44
Purdue all-time record: 612-563-48


Previous Game Results (Quick Hits Recap)

Michigan 21, Michigan State 7
We all know what happened here. Michigan’s defense dominated Michigan State, and Brian Lewerke, playing with an injured shoulder, couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn on his throws. The MSU defense played well, but the offense gave them nothing to work with. The offensive unit didn’t even eclipse 100 total yards for the Spartans. The injuries continued to pile up, and the Spartans lost No. 1 wide receiver Felton Davis III. Credit where it’s due, Michigan smacked the Spartans. Next.

Speaking of next, if you’re attending this week’s game, remember to yell “CANCER SUCKS” on kickoffs in honor of Purdue super fan Tyler Trent. Spread the word. I will be participating.

Purdue 49, Ohio State 20

After a horrid 0-3 start, Purdue finds itself 4-3, with a 3-1 conference record. The Boilermakers demolished the 12-point favorite Buckeyes. Purdue rode the momentum of a raucous home crowd and night game atmosphere. The Boilermakers struck first, and never trailed in the game afterward. Quarterback David Blough had a nice connection with freshman receiver Rondale Moore, who had 12 catches for 170 yards and two scores. Blough threw for 378 yards, four touchdowns and zero picks. Purdue’s defense sealed the deal with a pick six late in the fourth quarter, and held OSU to its lowest point total of the season. It was all Boilermakers.

If you are interested in Tyler Trent’s story, here you go:


Key Matchups

Rondale Moore vs. Michigan State secondary: Moore, a true freshmen and the highest-rated recruit Purdue has ever landed, is an absolute problem for opposing defenses. He is a game-breaker, and is somebody who needs to be game-planned against. I can see him causing all kinds of issues for MSU’s leaky secondary, but the silver lining is that it sounds like Josh Butler will return and Josiah Scott has a slight chance to play. Still, Scott would have to sit out the first half, and need to adjust to game speed. Moore tore up Ohio State last week, and leads the Boilermakers with 57 catches for 728 yards and seven scores. He also returns punts, and has 163 rushing yards and an additional touchdown on the ground.

Uh, a quarterback vs. Purdue’s secondary?: Is Brian Lewerke healthy enough to start? It’s looking like a no. Last week was a miserable game from Lewerke, completing just 20 percent of his passes for 66 yards. We later find out he hadn’t practiced the majority of the week and was dealing with some sort of shoulder injury. The choice this week is between a banged-up Lewerke and an inexperienced redshirt freshmen in Rocky Lombardi. The Spartans are also lacking weapons at the wide receiver position with Davis and Cody White out, and others banged up. Purdue ranks almost dead last in passing yards allowed, though, and can be taken advantage of there.

Win the trenches: Purdue, while noted for its passing attack, also has a pretty strong rushing game that averages nearly 177 yards per contest. The Spartans have had one of the best rushing defenses in the nation all year long. MSU must make Purdue one dimensional. Purdue is going to make plays in the passing game, but if the Boilermakers are able to get the run game going as well, it will be a long day for the Spartans. On the flip side, offensive line injuries/struggles have been constant for MSU, and the running game has suffered. Michigan State may be without center Matt Allen, but must generate push and win in the trenches.


Game Info

Time: Noon EST
TV Channel: ESPN
Location: Spartan Stadium, East Lansing
Weather expectations: Rain showers expected, with a high of 46 degrees. Winds blowing northeast at eight to 10 miles per hour
Line: Michigan State -1


Overview:

Purdue is a confident team right now, and it should be. The Boilermakers embarrassed the powerhouse that is Ohio State last week, and have an explosive offense. Purdue’s defense has not been great overall this season, but has allowed just 17 points per game in the past four games. The Spartans, on the other hand, are in shambles with injuries and the offense is going to continue to struggle to put up points. Michigan State’s defense will have to keep this to a lower scoring game if MSU wants a shot to win this game. Easier said than done, though, as Purdue has the No. 6 passing attack in the nation, while Michigan State’s passing defense is abysmal at 116th in the nation. However, the rushing defense is elite, and the unit overall has played very well these past two weeks. Rondale Moore is the X-factor, and if the Spartans are able to keep him in check, then I like MSU’s chances. That is a tall task, though.

Still, I just have this strong feeling that the “high-low effect” is going to come into play here, and Purdue will be riding a high after a huge, emotional win against the Buckeyes, while the Spartans hit a low point last week against the rival Wolverines. The Spartans are going to be hungry, while the Boilermakers may be overlooking the Spartans. I’m not saying that’s the case, but I just have a hunch. Keep in mind, this same Purdue team also lost its first three games, including to Eastern Michigan at home. Mark Dantonio has never lost to Purdue, and while this year’s scenario is a little bit different, history has a way of repeating itself. The Spartans, while technically favored by Las Vegas, are being picked to lose this game by many of the “experts.” That is when Michigan State plays its best ball.

The injuries are almost too much to overcome for MSU right now. Hell, we still aren’t even sure who is playing quarterback tomorrow (my guess is Lombardi). But I’m trying to keep positive vibes as I’ll be at the game and want to see a victory. I think this is a winnable game. Go Green!

Poll

Who wins?

This poll is closed

  • 22%
    Michigan State
    (63 votes)
  • 77%
    Purdue
    (223 votes)
286 votes total Vote Now