Football

Junior safety Tyree Kinnel and Michigan's secondary will be tested against Purdue's pass-heavy offense.

In short, what was once a rollover game is now a legitimate contest. Here’s what to watch for when Michigan opens its conference season Saturday:

Fifth-year senior running back Ty Isaac will be expected to factor heavily Saturday against the Boilermakers.

While No. 8 Michigan’s recent offensive struggles may have boosted Purdue’s chances at an upset, the Boilermakers may also be a far more worthy opponent than people originally thought.

Freshman receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones will be relied upon to fill the void left by the injured Tarik Black.

There is no question that Peoples-Jones has had his spotlight in the punt return game. Now, that spotlight is only getting brighter.

Sophomore tight end Sean McKeon has made a big move up the depth chart in only one season.

The now-sophomore played in just four games last year, and in just three games this season, McKeon has already eclipsed his production from 2016.

Sophomore cornerback David Long credited Jourdan Lewis with helping him improve during his freshman year.

David Long said he still talks to Jourdan Lewis every day of the week — or at least three if he’s busy. And Long could arguably thank Lewis — who he dubbed as a role model — for his current starting role with the Wolverines.

Senior offensive lineman Mason Cole acknowledged that the Wolverines will face a significant test on the road against Purdue.

While their mentality has always been that the most important game is the next one, the pressure is cranked up a notch now that the Big Ten season is set to begin.

Freshman wide receiver Tarik Black suffered an injury against Air Force and will likely miss the remainder of the season.

Freshman wide receiver Tarik Black suffered a foot injury against Air Force and will need surgery, said Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh on Monday. That same evening, Black posted a photo on Instagram with a caption that suggested he would be out for the remainder of the year.

Senior linebacker Mike McCray and the Wolverines' defense excelled against the triple option Saturday.

The defense carried the load while the offense struggled to find a groove, but the Wolverines managed to capture yet another victory.

Sophomore wide receiver Keko Crawford is a member of Michigan's offensive unit that is still in search of its identity.

It’s not the discrepancies in production between Michigan’s offensive and defensive units that are the problem. More so, it’s that the defense knows what it is, while the offense is in search of an identity with less than a week until the Wolverines’ Big Ten opener.

Freshman receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones came into his own against Air Force, and it showed.

Though Peoples-Jones — the No. 1 receiver in the 2017 class — has taken a backseat to fellow freshman Tarik Black so far, he took center stage on Saturday. And there could be much more of him in store.

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