June 14, 2024

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Michigan edge out Purdue to win their second straight Big Ten title, sealing the CFP berth

Michigan edge out Purdue to win their second straight Big Ten title, sealing the CFP berth

Michigan running back Donovan Edwards against Purdue in the Big Ten Championship on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

For the first time in 30 years, Michigan captured back-to-back Big Ten titles.

After last week’s victory over Ohio State, all that stood between Michigan and another playoff berth in the College Football Playoff was a non-ranking meeting with Purdue in the Big Ten Championship game.

Purdue put up a heated battle, but the Wolverines eventually prevailed with a 43-22 victory in Indianapolis to win their second straight Big Ten championship. It’s something Michigan hasn’t accomplished since the 1991 and 1992 seasons.

With the win, Michigan secured a spot in the CFP—probably the No. 2 seed behind defending National Champion Georgia.

Donovan Edwards, the red zone defense makes the difference for Michigan

To get to 13-0, Michigan needed another big performance from Donovan Edwards. Edwards, now in the leading running back role in place of an injured Blake Corum, followed up his 216-yard effort from last week with 185 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries against the Boilermakers.

That outing from Edwards was essential as Michigan got off to a rather slow start. Purdue led 10-7 early in the second quarter and the Wolverines only led 14-13 at halftime. However, in the second half, Edwards set the tone.

On the first play of the third quarter, Edwards kicked in from 60 yards to set up Kalel Mullings’ first career touchdown.

Purdue went three-and-out on the next possession, allowing Edwards to get back into action. This time, after a 47-yard completion from JJ McCarthy to tight end Luke Schoonmaker, Edwards exploded across the line for a 27-yard touchdown.

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Less than five minutes into the second half, Michigan’s lead had grown from 14-13 to 28-13.

It would be tough for Purdue to beat him, but the Boilermakers fought to the end.

Purdue quarterback Aidan O’Connell threw for 366 yards, connecting with Charlie Jones (13 catches for 162 yards) again and again. But the boilermakers constantly stopped in the red. Purdue has driven inside the Michigan 20 on six occasions, but has only scored one touchdown. Of the other five possessions, four resulted in field goals and another resulted in an interception by O’Connell.

Michigan’s ability to bend without breaking proved to be the difference in the game. As Purdue’s drives were consistently short, Michigan was able to finish.

Although the final score looked lopsided, Michigan’s lead was only 28-19 early in the fourth. Down nine, Purdue actually got the ball back with a chance to cut further into the lead. However, O’Connell was picked off by Will Johnson for the second time, opening the door for McCarthy to hit Ronnie Bell for a 17-yard touchdown.

That touchdown, McCarthy’s third of the game, quieted any chance of an upset. McCarthy finished 11 of 17 for 161 yards, three touchdowns and an interception in the win.