Throughout the season I'll chat with a media member who covers the opponent each week and bring you that interview in a Q&A format here in the Golden Gopher Football Blog. This week, I talked to Kyle Meinke who covers the Michigan Wolverines for AnnArbor.com.
GopherSports.com: There's been some chatter about some dissension in the Purdue program early this week. Has any of that been a distraction for the Boilermakers?
Mike Carmin: Players and coaches say no, but anytime a comment like the one quarterback Robert Marve sent out on Twitter doesn't portray a program that has good team chemistry. Once those thoughts reach the public, questions start and usually don't stop, unless the on the field performance changes.
GopherSports.com: Other than the aforementioned questions about dissension, what else has been the buzz around the program this week?
Mike Carmin: Just how the Boilermakers will respond after the loss to Notre Dame. It wasn't as much that Purdue lost, but how coach Danny Hope's team performed. They had 13 penalties, including six in the first quarter, after a week off and had some tackling issues. Most Purdue fans understand the Irish have more talent, but this series has been competitive over the years. Last week was not one of those times.
GopherSports.com: Who or what has Purdue's attention when it comes to Minnesota?
Mike Carmin: Whether MarQueis Gray plays or not. He gives the Gophers a different dimension on offense, one that will be difficult for the Boilermakers to stop.
GopherSports.com: Which team needs this 'W' more?
Mike Carmin: Both teams need one badly and both have circled this game. I think this is a game Purdue can't afford to lose since it's at home and the Gophers may be missing some key personnel. The Boilermakers are healthy and need to bounce back after last week.
GopherSports.com: Who are some players on the Purdue side of things that Minnesota fans should keep an eye on?
Mike Carmin: On offense, quarterback Caleb TerBush is expected to start his fifth straight game but backup Robert Marve will see action. Running back Ralph Bolden didn't play in 2010 after a knee injury and is the team's leading rusher. On defense, tackle Kawann Short is having a good year and cornerbacks Ricardo Allen and Josh Johnson are physical players. Always keep an eye on kicker Carson Wiggs, who is capable of making one from 60-yards plus.
GopherSports.com: Are there any matchups or 'game-within-a-game' situations that are of particular interest to you this week?
Mike Carmin: How the Boilermakers handle Minnesota's passing offense. Regardless of who they're playing, it's been a struggle defending the pass. Purdue has allowed too many big plays and needs to find a way to get off the field on third down. The Boilermakers haven't apply much pressure on opposing quarterbacks and that needs to change.
GopherSports.com: How does Purdue win the game?
Mike Carmin: Fewer penalties than last week and no turnovers. Establish a running game, which would allow the quarterbacks to thrive in the passing game. If Gray plays, they have to keep him in check.
GopherSports.com: How does Minnesota win the game?
Mike Carmin: Gray plays and is able to exploit Purdue's defense on the ground. The Gophers shut down the Boilermakers' running game and force TerBush and Marve to win it through the air. Coach Jerry Kill is no stranger to winning in Ross-Ade Stadium after leading Northern Illinois to a win in 2009.