Hampered by dropped passes and harassed by swarming defenders, Purdue junior quarterback Drew Brees had the worst game of his career today in the one he called his 11th-ranked team's biggest--a 38-12 loss to fourth-ranked Michigan before 111,468 at Michigan Stadium.
After stifling Wisconsin running back Ron Dayne last week, Michigan's defense dented Brees's case for the Heisman Trophy today. His passing statistics were his worst as a starter. He completed 20 of 49 passes for 293 yards with a touchdown--a 66-yarder to senior wide receiver Vinny Sutherland--and an interception. His previous low completion percentage was 55 percent against Michigan State last season.
Now, Michigan (5-0 overall, 2-0 Big Ten) moves on to another major challenge: a road game against arch rival and 14th-ranked Michigan State.
However, even that could not seem any more daunting than the prospect of facing Brees, who entered today's game having completed 107 of 172 passes this season for 1,315 yards and 10 touchdowns. But Brees had not faced Michigan (the Wolverines had rotated off Purdue's schedule for the past two seasons), and his future doesn't get any easier. Next week, the Boilermakers visit Ohio State--another team they have not played since 1996. The following two weeks, Purdue has home games against Michigan State and Penn State.
"I think you're going to see a new Purdue team next week," Brees said. "I think we've learned some things here. We're going to go into Ohio State with a new attitude and a new mind-set."
Sutherland caught two passes for 73 yards and the touchdown, but also dropped two. Senior wide receiver Chris Daniels dropped at least four, and said the drops were "probably the decisive factor in the game."
Meanwhile, the Wolverines registered their best point total of the season. Michigan used its cadre of speedy wide receivers not only to pick apart Purdue's secondary but to help fill in on defense. Senior wide receiver Marcus Knight, who had five catches for 136 yards and a touchdown, saw some playing time at cornerback. Sophomore David Terrell also was part of the secondary that silenced Brees, and added two catches, including a first-quarter touchdown.