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Purdue's momentum halted in 44-13 loss to UofM


Purdue came into Saturday’s game hoping to make a statement and send a message to the Big Ten that it had arrived.

When the team walked off the field in Ross-Ade Stadium, it was apparent that, despite what they may have thought, the journey to the top is not going to be easy. The Boilers (3-2, 0-1) fell to Michigan, 44-13, in the conference opener.

“I don’t think we played to our potential at all.  I think we got a little loose headed,” said Purdue cornerback Ricardo Allen.  “We thought it was going to be easy going into the Big Ten compared to those other games.”

It wasn’t easy, but it is hard to stop what you can’t see.  Denard Robinson wasn’t invisible, Saturday, but he was often a blur.

Michigan’s quarterback accounted for 340-yards of offense, including 235 rushing, to extend the Wolverines win streak in the series to three straight and halt Purdue's best start in five seasons.

“He’s a great player and he executed the quarterback run-read game very well today,” said Purdue head coach Danny Hope.  “He turned the field over three, four, five times that really impacted the outcome of the ball game.”

In the game, Robinson (8-16, 105 yds, TD) became the Big Ten’s all-time leading rushing among quarterbacks, surpassing former Indiana signal caller Antwan Randle El.  He had rushes of 38, 46, and 59 yards.

Michigan (3-2, 1-0) jumped out to a 14-0 lead, scoring on its first two possessions including an opening 17-play, 78-yard drive that took nearly nine minutes.  Fitz Toussaint (17 carries, 22 yards, 2 TDs) found the end zone on the drives punching it in from one-yard out both times.

The Wolverines pushed their lead to 21-0 when Raymon Taylor intercepted a Caleb TerBush pass that tipped off O.J Ross’ hands and returned it 63-yards for a touchdown.

“It was a huge swing in their favor.  It’s never fun throwing a pick six because you know the momentum it gives the other team,” said TerBush. “It’s tough to come back from that.”

Purdue didn’t pick up a first down until 14:14 in the second quarter and finally got on the board when Paul Griggs connected on a career-long 40-yard field goal midway through the quarter to cut the deficit to 21-3.

On the ensuing drive Michigan marched 74-yards and capped off a seven play drive with a 23-yard touchdown pass from Robinson to Devin Gardner on third down to push the Wolverines lead to 28-3.

Purdue’s only takeaway came late in the first half when Robert Maci forced Robinson to fumble.  That set up the Boilermakers lone touchdown of the game, a four yard pass from TerBush to O.J Ross that cut the deficit to 28-10 at halftime.

“I felt like we’d have a chance to play our way back into the ballgame,” said Hope.  “I think it was consistent throughout the course of the ballgame that they played better and executed better than we did.”

After the break, Purdue could only muster another field goal by Griggs.  Michigan kicker Brandan Gibbons netted three field goals (29, 42, 27) in the second half and Thomas Rawls scored a late fourth quarter touchdown for the Wolverines.

Offensively, the Boilermakers struggled from start to finish.  The team was just 1-11 on third down and was out gained on the ground 304 to 56.  Akeem Shavers led Purdue with 39 yards on 10 carries.

“We felt like coming into the ballgame we were going to have to throw it in order to have a chance to win the game,” said Hope.  “When we called our run plays, it didn’t look like we manufactured many holes for the backs.” 

But, the Wolverines shut down the Boilers’ passing attack, as well.  TerBush was 16-25 for 105 yards and Robert Marve, who replaced TerBush in the third quarter, was 5-8 for 43 yards and threw an interception.

“You’ve got to play well against great opponents like Michigan,” Marve said.

The consensus was, the Boilermakers did not do that.

One goal Hope put a lot of emphasis on this year was Purdue going undefeated inside Ross-Ade Stadium.  That is no longer possible.

But, Purdue’s primary goal, to win a Big Ten title, remains in front of them. 

“I’m hoping that we will take today’s game and learn from it,” Hope said.  “I think the ball game today will be a great motivating factor for our football team. (It) has to be.”

The Boilermakers host Wisconsin next weekend for Homecoming.  The two teams have been considered by many as the top two contenders in the Leaders division, especially with Ohio State and Penn State ineligible to play in the conference title game this year. 

It’s another opportunity for Purdue to make 2012 a special season.

“We just have to level out and start believing in ourselves and don’t let the hype from the outside get in, because once you start believing in the wrong hype, you think you are better than what you really are,” said Allen.

“I think we are a really good team, but we just thought we were a little too good this week.”