At 4-0, No. 17 Purdue is feeling pretty good about itself. Then again, the Boilermakers have yet to play a ranked team, and two of their wins were very controversial.

Paul Wong
Marlin Jackson and the Michigan defense handed Penn State its first shutout loss at Beaver Stadium in 35 years.<br><br>JOHN PRATT/Daily

Purdue beat Minnesota two weeks ago when the Boilermakers got the field goal unit on the field and snapped the ball within one second. Then, in overtime, a Minnesota touchdown was ruled out-of-bounds. On the next play, Purdue free safety Stuart Schweigert intercepted a pass to seal the victory.

In both cases, replays showed the referees made the wrong call.

Two weeks earlier, in its first game of the year, Purdue eked past Cincinnati 19-14. The game was even closer than the score indicates because the Bearcats were driving down the field during the last minute of the game and completed a fourth-and-15 pass that took them to the Purdue 6-yard line.

But, the play was called back because Cincinnati only had 10 players on the field before its running back joined the action, making the play illegal.

Schweigert, again, intercepted the next pass to secure the win.

“I”d definitely rather be lucky than good,” Purdue coach Joe Tiller said.

Michigan rush offense vs. Purdue rush defense: Michigan”s B.J. Askew has been as impressive as any back in the Big Ten this year, averaging five yards per carry and 121 yards of total offense per game.

Purdue shut down Iowa”s rushing attack last week, holding Iowa star Ladell Betts to just six yards on 12 carries and the entire Iowa team to just 33 yards on 34 carries. Iowa is the only team with a respectable rushing attack that the Boilermakers have faced this year Cincinnati, Akron and Minnesota have all struggled to run the ball against anybody.

Ultimately, Michigan”s offensive line is just too big for Purdue”s defensive line, and Michigan will likely wear down Purdue. Don”t be surprised if Askew pops a big run late.

Edge: Michigan

Michigan pass offense vs. Purdue pass defense: Michigan”s passing attack has been better than nearly anyone expected. Marquise Walker has played like an All-American, Calvin Bell has become a big-play threat and quarterback John Navarre has been much better than anticipated.

The Purdue passing defense is led by Schweigert, a potential All-Big Ten safety. The Boilermakers” cornerbacks Antwaun Rogers and Ashante Woodyard have been solid thus far on the season, but neither have faced receivers the caliber of Michigan”s.

Edge: Even

Purdue pass offense vs. Michigan pass defense: Purdue”s passing attack hasn”t been as dangerous since record-setting quarterback Drew Brees left. Freshman Brandon Hance replaced him but hasn”t been as effective throwing the football.

Then again, the spread offense is still very difficult to defend, with up to five receivers on the field causing matchup problems.

Michigan coach Lloyd Carr has decided to defend the spread by using a zone defense, which is a smart move, considering man-to-man coverage will consistently allow Purdue”s receivers to get open.

Ultimately, the Boilermakers” passing attack will cause problems for Michigan, and if the Boilermakers are going to beat Michigan, Hance will have to have a big game.

Edge: Purdue

Purdue rushing offense vs. Michigan rushing defense: Michigan”s front seven is as good as any in the country. Opponents are averaging only 52 rushing yards per game against the Wolverines.

Purdue”s rushing attack is led by Montrell Lowe. Tiller likes to call lots of draws and traps because of the holes that are left open by defenses guarding against the pass.

Lowe will likely squirt through the line into the secondary a couple of times, but Michigan”s front seven still deserves the edge here.

Edge: Michigan

Intangibles: Michigan”s at home.

Michigan still remembers last year”s 32-31 loss where it was up 28-10 at halftime.

And Hance is a freshman.

Edge: Michigan

Prediction: The Boilermakers have alligator blood. As a result, they have a good chance to hang around the entire game.

But, as long as Michigan doesn”t lose the turnover battle, Michigan should win and give Purdue its first loss of the season.

Michigan 27, Purdue 23

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