WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Michigan's defensive backs have bullied and beaten Purdue's receivers in three straight wins over the Boilermakers, who know that streak will continue today if their high-powered offense struggles again.
"Their secondary has basically controlled us over the last couple years," Purdue quarterback Kyle Orton said.
Orton threw two interceptions and was sacked seven times in last year's 31-3 loss to Michigan in Ann Arbor. The Wolverines confused him by disguising their coverages and frustrated the Boilermakers' receivers with their physical style of play.
No. 12 Purdue can expect more of the same today from No. 13 Michigan.
"It was a very aggressive game plan last year," Michigan cornerback Marlin Jackson said. "The coaches probably have the same thing in mind."
The result was familiar for both teams. Michigan has won 17 of the 20 games in the series since 1980 and is 4-1 since coach Joe Tiller took over the Boilermakers eight years ago.
This time, however, the Wolverines will be facing a different Orton.
"He has got great awareness of what every guy on his team is going to do," Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said. "He knows where they're going to be, he knows what the coverages are, and he's got a great arm."
That's why Orton believes this offense is better equipped to match up against Michigan.
"Right now I have a great grasp of the offense," Orton said. "I'm not getting fooled on coverages like I used to."
TV/radio: Channels 13, 7; 1470.
Records: Indiana is 2-4, 0-3 in Big Ten; OSU is 3-3, 0-3.
Last game: Indiana lost at Northwestern 31-24; OSU lost at Iowa 33-7.
Favorite: OSU by 13.
Notable: Time was, whenever the Hoosiers came to Columbus, no matter how the Buckeye season was going, it was guaranteed-win day. It was play-everyone-on-the-roster day. Well, that was then and this is now. OSU is reeling, has lost its confidence as well as its offense, and if ever there was a team in need of an Indiana pick-me-up, it's the Buckeyes. QB Troy Smith will get his chance as the starter, and if he can provide a spark he'll stand a good chance to keep the job.
Time: 2 p.m.
Records: BG is 4-2, 2-1 in MAC West; Ohio is 3-4, 1-3 in MAC East.
Last game: BG d. Ball State 51-13; Ohio lost at Toledo 31-13.
Favorite: BG by 13.
Notable: The immovable object may encounter the irresistable force when these two teams collide at Peden Stadium. The Bobcats rank among the top defenses in the nation, primarily because of their ability to create turnovers. The Falcons have one of the top offenses in the country, in large part because they have turned the ball over just four times in six games. That ball security is one of the reasons BG is averaging 53 points per game in a three-game winning streak. While all eyes will be on the marquee matchup of top defense facing top offense, look for BG's underrated defense and underappreciated special teams to help the Falcon offense earn the victory.
Time: 3:30 p.m.
TV/radio: Channels 13, 7; 760.
Records: Michigan is 6-1, 4-0 in Big Ten; Purdue is 5-1, 2-1.
Last game: Michigan d. Illinois 30-19; Purdue lost to Wisconsin 20-17.
Favorite: Purdue by 4 1/2.
Notable: In QB Kyle Orton the Wolverines will be facing a senior who has thrown for 1,877 yards, 19 touchdowns and just three interceptions this season. He must be stopped, or at least neutralized, for Michigan to win. UM's best defense may be its offense, led by a terrific line and receivers and highlighted by two freshmen, QB Chad Henne and RB Michael Hart. If they can keep the ball, they'll also keep it out of Orton's hands. The Wolverines also will be looking to keep pace with Wisconsin as the only two remaining teams with undefeated conference records.
Time: 7 p.m.
TV/radio: BCSN replay, 11 p.m.; 1370.
Records: Central is 2-4, 1-2 in MAC West; UT is 5-2, 4-0.
Last game: UT d. Ohio 31-13; Central Michigan lost to Northern Illinois 42-10.
Favorite: Toledo by 24 1/2.
Notable: The Rockets came home a month ago after being roughed up on the road by Minnesota and Kansas, and getting their first win at Eastern Michigan. Toledo hoped to get well with a four-of-five stretch at the Glass Bowl, and tonight's game is the final one in that installment of the season. If the Rockets prevail they will take a six-game winning streak into critical games at Miami and Northern Illinois. Central is trying to convert to the spread offense, but still relies heavily on the running of Jerry Seymour, the MAC's leading rusher. The Rockets have the passing game humming, with QB Bruce Gradkowski leading the nation in efficiency, and UT averaging better than 45 points per game during its winning streak. Toledo has won 11 in a row at home, and 28 of its last 29.