Credit: Aaron J. ThorntonBy Aaron J. ThorntonThe #2 ranked Michigan Wolverines kept its winning streak going on Saturday, this time beating the Purdue Boilermakers and claiming the team’s second straight Big Ten Football Championship title. The victory mirrored many of the other games this season in which the game was close at halftime before the Wolverines pulled away in the second half to win.
Michigan forced Purdue to go three and out on the opening possession of the game, then they drove 56 yards down the field and scored when Quarterback J.J. McCarthy found Tight End Colston Loveland for a 25 yard touchdown reception. The touchdown gave the Maize and Blue an early 7-0 lead in the game. The Boilermakers would strike back going 92 yards on 10 plays to tie the game 7-7. Michigan’s defense would then stand up tall, keeping Purdue out of the end zone but the Boilermakers would get a field goal out of the drive and take a 10-7 lead, their first and only lead of the day. With another McCarthy touchdown pass, this time to Tight End Luke Schoonmaker, and then a Purdue field goal, Michigan would lead at half time by one point, 14-13.
In the second half, the Wolverines continued their season-long pattern of wearing down their opponent and dominating the second half. With the first possession of the half, Michigan went 75 yards on 5 plays and scored with a 1 yard touchdown run by Kaleb Mullings, increasing their lead to 21-13. Purdue would not be able to answer and punt the ball away back to Michigan. The Wolverines offense would attack and find success again, getting two big plays on the drive and scoring when Running Back Donovan Edwards broke tackles for a 27 yard touchdown run. This increased Michigan’s lead to fifteen points within five minutes into the second half and Purdue was starting to feel the game slipping away from them.
The Wolverines defense would put together stop after stop, getting two interceptions by Will Johnson and holding the Boilermakers to only three field goals in the second half, while the Wolverines offense kept rolling. Michigan’s Ronnie Bell caught a 17 yard touchdown pass and after a two-point conversion it was a 36-19 Michigan lead and the Wolverines could smell victory. Michigan scored one last touchdown with a minute and a half left in the game to close the door on Purdue and win its second straight conference championship 43-22.
McCarthy threw for 3 touchdowns on the day, racking up 161 passing yards in the game and completing 11 of 16 passes. Edwards, who was named the most outstanding player of the game, ran for 185 yards and 1 touchdown. Purdue’s Aidan O’Connell threw for a game high 366 yards in a losing effort.
With the final BCS rankings announced on Sunday, #2 Michigan (13-0) will head to Arizona and match up against #3 TCU Horned Frogs (12-1) in the Fiesta Bowl on New Year’s Eve. That game, at 4p ET, is the first of two playoff games on the day and the winner will face the winner of the later (8p ET) game in Georgia between #1 Georgia (13-0) and #4 Ohio State (11-1) for the college football championship.