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Big Ten Championship Prediction: Michigan Looks to Punch Playoff Ticket With Win Over Purdue

Undefeated Wolverines going for back-to-back outright Big Ten titles for the first time in 30 years.

For the second season in a row, the Michigan Wolverines have knocked out Ohio State from Big Ten title contention and are a win away from playing in the College Football Playoff. All that is standing in the way now is a matchup with the Purdue Boilermakers, who are making their first appearance in the Big Ten Football Championship Game and hope to play spoiler in a surprising way.

Related: College Football Predictions for Every Game in Week 14

Michigan (12-0, 9-0 Big Ten) may still be in a good position to play for a national championship regardless of what happens this weekend in Indianapolis, thanks to last week's runaway victory at Ohio State. Even at 12-1, Michigan would get the edge over Ohio State, who is sitting home and in need of some help this weekend to get a foot into the playoff. But barring a 35-point loss to Purdue, Michigan is not about to extend a helping hand to its fiercest rival.

Michigan is looking to win back-to-back Big Ten titles for the first time in the Big Ten Championship Game era and for the first time since 1991 and '92 (not counting an outright title in 1997 and a three-way tie for the conference title in 1998). For Purdue (8-4, 6-3), the chance to secure the first Big Ten title in school history since sharing the title and playing in the Rose Bowl with Drew Brees at quarterback in the 2000 season — and the first outright Big Ten title since 1929 — is on the line in Indianapolis.

Here is what to know going into the Big Ten Football Championship Game this weekend.

Big Ten Football Championship Game: Purdue vs. No. 2 Michigan

Kickoff: Saturday, Dec. 3 at 8 p.m. ET
Where: Lucas Oil Stadium (Indianapolis)
Live Stream: fuboTV (Start your free trial)
Spread: Michigan -17
Tickets: As low as $136 on*

When Purdue Has the Ball

It is no secret what Purdue wants to do when it has its hands on the football. The Boilermakers will want to make plays through the air, as Aidan O'Connell leads the Big Ten with 284.0 passing yards per game. O'Connell enters with 3,214 yards, and if not for missing a game due to injury, he very well could be leading in total yards as well, a category currently belonging to Ohio State's C.J. Stroud. If Stroud is an example of what O'Connell needs to do to beat Michigan, then it is clear he will have to avoid turning the football over.

Stroud passed for 349 yards and two touchdowns against Michigan last week, but he was also intercepted twice in a 45-23 loss to the Wolverines. O'Connell has thrown 11 picks in his 11 games played this season, so Michigan's defense will be waiting for the right moment to pounce because odds are there will be at least one of those key spots to capitalize on.

If Purdue is going to create some noise against Michigan, expect wide receiver Charlie Jones to play a big role. A first-team All-Big Ten honoree, Jones had 97 catches this season for 1,199 yards and 12 touchdowns. Purdue will need some big catches from their go-to receiver to cause any trouble for Michigan's Big Ten-leading defense. The Wolverines have allowed just nine touchdown passes this season compared to 10 interceptions.

When Michigan Has the Ball

Michigan was dealt a significant blow on offense with the loss of star running back Blake Corum to a season-ending knee injury. Without Corum to rely on last week, quarterback J.J. McCarthy rose to the occasion on the road against Ohio State with big plays through the air and a sense of confidence needed to win a big rivalry game with as much on the line as we witnessed last week. McCarthy had three touchdown passes and one more on the ground to help send the Wolverines back to the Big Ten Championship Game.

Keeping that sense of confidence and momentum going will be important this week. Donovan Edwards will step into a leading role with Corum out of the picture, and Michigan should still feel comfortable with that situation in this matchup. Edwards has rushed for 687 yards behind one of the Big Ten's best offensive lines. Edwards gashed Ohio State for 216 yards, highlighted by a pair of long runs that left the Buckeyes gasping for air and shaking their heads in disbelief. The Wolverines won't need another 200-yard outburst from Edwards to get the job done, but it sure wouldn't hurt either!

Final Analysis

Some would argue that Michigan doesn't necessarily need to win this weekend in order to reach the College Football Playoff, but Jim Harbaugh isn't about to let his team fall into a false sense of security after going through a similar experience a year ago. Expect the Wolverines to do what they have done to nearly every opponent this season, wear down Purdue on the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball and grind out ut a win that still looks quite impressive at the end of the day.

The Boilermakers will put up a solid fight and have the offense to make for some exciting moments in Indianapolis, but this is Michigan's moment to shine, and the Wolverines will punch a ticket to the playoff the safest way possible, with a 13-0 record and a Big Ten championship in hand.

Prediction: Michigan 34, Purdue 17

Podcast: Complete Week 14 Preview, Predictions & Picks Against the Spread

— Written by Kevin McGuire, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @KevinOnCFB, on Instagram, on TikTok, and Like him on Facebook.

*Price as of publication.