This article is part of our College Football Picks series.
Big Ten Championship Betting Preview: Michigan vs. Purdue
Sports betting is picking up across Big Ten country with Maryland launching in late November and Ohio targeting a New Year's Day launch. If you're located in either state, you can get in on the action with the BetMGM Maryland Bonus Code or BetMGM Ohio Bonus Code. Betting is of course already live in Michigan and Indiana, and residents of those states can check out the latest Michigan sports betting options or Indiana sports betting options.
Purdue will make its first-ever Big Ten Title game appearance. The Boilermakers fell to 5-4 in early November and then rattled off three straight wins. As a result, they backed their way into a division title in the mess that is the Big Ten West thanks to Iowa dropping its regular-season finale against Nebraska.
The Boilermakers do probably make for a better matchup than the Hawkeyes, but they're still a steep step below Michigan. The No. 2-ranked Wolverines once again proved themselves as one of college football's top teams, blowing out archrival Ohio State for the second year in a row - this time in Columbus.
Michigan's ticket to the College Football Playoff has already been punched. But, could there be any upset potential against the notorious "Spoilermakers", who are 3-0 against top-three ranked teams during the tenure of head coach Jeff Brohm?
Michigan vs. Purdue Odds for Big Ten Championship
Spread: Michigan -17 (-105 PointsBet Sportsbook), Purdue +17 (-110 BetMGM Sportsbook)
Total: 51.5 (-110 BetMGM Sportsbook)
Moneyline: Michigan -800 (BetMGM Sportsbook); Purdue +600 (Caesar's Sportsbook)
The spread opened slightly lower at 15.5 on Sunday, but reaction to Michigan's massive win over the then No. 2-ranked Buckeyes likely led this to bump up. The moneyline odds for a Boilermakers win is also significantly lower than the team's +3000 preseason odds to win the Big Ten Title.
The total is almost exactly on par with the average over-under mark for Purdue (50.7) and Michigan (51.2) this season. But, the implied score of 34.25-17.25 suggests the Wolverines will score right along with their in-conference average (34.7), while the Boilermakers are expected to fall a full touchdown below theirs (25.6).
Michigan is 7-4-1 ATS with the under hitting in eight of their contests. Purdue has gone 5-7 ATS while reaching the over seven times in 2022.
Michigan vs. Purdue Betting Picks This Week
Coming away with the Big Ten Championship is the obvious goal for both teams in this matchup. However, their reasons why probably aren't the same.
All Michigan has to do is just not lose. The Wolverines are all but guaranteed a top-two seed in the College Football Playoff so long as they beat the Boilermakers. However, there's no need for a statement win after they already trounced Ohio State last week. Given the landscape of the rankings coming into championship weekend, there's virtually no way Michigan can be jumped by a team behind them so long it wins the Big Ten title.
What's more, Heisman candidate Blake Corum, who clearly wasn't healthy while trying to play through injury against Ohio State, is now expected to undergo season-ending knee surgery, according to Ian Rapaport of NFL Network. No. 2 running back Donovan Edwards more than made up for Corum's inability to play – 22 carries, 216 yards, two touchdowns – but he's still dealing with a hand injury that sidelined him just two weeks ago. Top tight end Luke Schoonmaker has also been banged up as of late, and a potential injury to quarterback J.J. McCarthy could derail any hopes for a run to the national championship game, as last year's starter Cade McNamara has already entered the portal and committed to transfer to Iowa, per Pete Thamel of ESPN.com.
Even if the Wolverines get out to an early lead, I don't head coach John Harbaugh going all gas no brakes with so many squeaky wheels. Meanwhile, Purdue should have nothing to lose in their first-ever title appearance. I could see Jeff Brohm pull out all the stops and throw in some of his patented trick plays. If they do fall behind big late in the game, the Boilermakers have the offensive build to pass their way out of a big deficit into a more respectable one. And who knows, maybe Purdue does manage to go blow for blow with heavyweight Michigan.
It's not the most scientific rationale, but the surrounding circumstances give me enough reason to air on the side of the Boilermakers, who have been one of the hardest teams to predict all season.
Michigan vs. Purdue Best Bet: Purdue +17 at BetMGM Sportsbook
Michigan vs. Purdue Prediction
As mentioned in the preamble, Purdue didn't do much to necessarily earn the right to represent the Big Ten West. They were one of three teams in the division to finish the regular season 8-4 overall. The Boilermakers also suffered back-to-back double-digit losses to Wisconsin and Iowa.
It's easy to argue that Illinois was probably the best team from this division, as it was the only squad to lose by less than a touchdown to Michigan all year. But, Purdue had the crucial tie-breaking win over the Fighting Illini. The Boilermakers achieved this victory by exploiting Illinois' physical man coverage, leading to 12 total penalties for 121 yards from the Fighting Illini. Those aren't the types of mistakes Michigan makes. The Wolverines were the fourth-least penalized team in Big Ten (4.7) and ranked second in penalty yards (36.2). Purdue also hit three big passes of 20-or-more yards against Illinois. That's not a lot for a team that attempts 41.9 passes per game. The Boilermakers have actually hit 20-plus-yard completions on just 6.9 percent of their passing attempts in conference play.
Meanwhile, the Wolverines have allowed such completions on 6.6 percent of passes in the Big Ten. In fact, Michigan has given up the second-fewest opponent scrimmage plays of 10-plus yards (88) and 20-plus yards (25) in the conference this season. Michigan makes you have to have to beat them on a down-to-down basis. This is something Purdue has been just okay at this year, ranking 54th in the nation for offensive success rate (50.4), according to @statsowar on Twitter.
Quarterback Aidan O'Connell is expected to start again for Purdue despite receiving the devastating news of his brother's passing ahead of the regular-season finale against Indiana, per Sam King of the Lafayette Journal & Courier. While it's impossible to know how this will affect him emotionally, O'Connell's presence is a crucial development given his rapport with the team's top-two receivers.
Charlie Jones has been a pass-catching machine in his first season with the Boilermakers, and tight end Payne Durham has given secondaries fits a big-bodied No. 2 option. Still, that might not be enough to overcome a Wolverines defense that has allowed the fourth-lowest yards per attempt in Big Ten play (6.1) and the sixth-lowest yards per completion in the FBS (10.1). Running back Devin Mockobee has provided much-needed consistency on the ground (5.1 yards per rush), but he's just another off-speed pitch in an offense that lacks true firepower. The Wolverines' defense also allowed a conference-low 2.97 yards per carry.
On the other side, Michigan's offense has been crushing doubles and triples all year in the Big Ten, logging plays of 10-plus yards 18.2 percent of the time. Then, in their 45-23 win over Ohio State, the Wolverines finally hit some home runs, scoring passing touchdowns of 45, 69 and 75 yards and rushing touchdowns of three, 75 and 85 yards. These big plays were a pretty wide divergence from their conference trend, when they gained 20 or more yards on 6.8 percent of plays.
While it's unlikely Michigan can replicate these incredibly explosive results, Purdue's defense has been killed by big plays, allowing the second-most plays of 30-plus yards (20) and the most plays of 40-plus yards (13) in the conference. The Boilermakers' stingy rush defense has given up just 4.04 yards per carry. But, even without Corum, Michigan's hog-molly-filled offensive line should be able to push around the Boilermakers and create some more holes for Donovan Edwards to take advantage of.
As stated above, I don't think we'll see the 42-3 drubbing Michigan laid down against Iowa in last year's Big Ten Championship. But, I also can't imagine the "Spoilmakers" living up to their moniker against this Wolverines squad that might be, top to bottom, better than last season's.
Final Score: Michigan 34, Purdue 20
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