For the first time in 30 years, Michigan has captured back-to-back Big Ten titles.
After last week’s victory over Ohio State, the only thing standing between Michigan and another berth in the College Football Playoff was a meeting with unranked Purdue in the Big Ten championship game.
Purdue put up a spirited battle, but the Wolverines eventually prevailed with a 43-22 victory in Indianapolis to win a second consecutive straight Big Ten championship. It’s something Michigan hadn’t achieved since the 1991 and 1992 seasons.
With the win, Michigan is secured a spot in the CFP – likely the number 2 seed behind defending champion Georgia.
Donovan Edwards, red zone defense makes all the difference for Michigan
To get to 13-0, Michigan needed another big performance from running back Donovan Edwards. Edwards, now in the lead role in place of the injured Blake Corum, followed up his 216-yard effort from last week with 185 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries vs. the boiler makers.
That Edwards outing was necessary because Michigan started out pretty slow. Purdue took a 10-7 lead early in the second quarter and the Wolverines only held a 14-13 halftime lead. In the second half, however, Edwards set the tone.
On the first play of the third quarter, Edwards rolled off a 60-yard burst to set up the first career touchdown for Kalel Mullings.
Purdue went three-and-out on the next possession, allowing Edwards back to work. This time, on a 47-yard JJ McCarthy completion to Luke Schoonmaker, Edwards exploded through the line for a 27-yard touchdown.
Less than five minutes into the second half, Michigan’s lead had grown from 14-13 to 28-13.
It would prove too much for Purdue to overcome, but the Boilermakers fought to the end.
Purdue quarterback Aidan O’Connell threw for 366 yards and connected again and again with Charlie Jones (13 catches for 162 yards). But the Boilermakers continued to get stuck in the red zone. Purdue advanced six times in the Michigan 20, but only scored one touchdown. Of the other five possessions, four resulted in field goals and another resulted in an O’Connell interception.
Michigan’s ability to bend but not break proved to be the difference in the game. With Purdue’s drives consistently coming up short, Michigan was able to finish.
While the final score seems lopsided, Michigan’s lead was only 28-19 early in the fourth. Under nine, Purdue actually got the ball back with a chance to take the lead further. However, O’Connell was nicked a second time by Will Johnson, opening the door for McCarthy to hit Ronnie Bell for a 17-yard touchdown.
That touchdown, McCarthy’s third of the game, quieted any chances of an upset. McCarthy finished 11-of-17 for 161 yards, three touchdowns and an interception in the win.