12:05 PM ET, October 19, 2002
Ross-Ade Stadium, West Lafayette, IN
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) -- John Navarre had plenty of time to make big plays, but he didn't need much of it to get Michigan on the scoreboard.
Navarre threw for 271 yards and a touchdown as the Wolverines (No. 9 ESPN/USA Today, No. 11 AP) beat Purdue 23-21 Saturday.
The Wolverines (6-1, 3-0 Big Ten) matched their second-lowest point total of the season, but the points came quickly. They needed less than 3 1/2 minutes on all four scoring drives.
Seven plays of double-digit gains in the first half helped Michigan quickly pick up 190 yards in only 10:15, and Navarre was a big reason. He spread the ball around, with three receivers finishing with over 70 yards receiving.
"They are big-play guys,'' Navarre said. "They're smart, they know their defenses and they can read defenses. That's the difference.''
The quick scoring almost wasn't enough.
Brandon Kirsch found John Standeford for a 31-yard score in the third quarter that got the Boilermakers (3-5, 1-2) to 17-14.
Kirsch was benched for Kyle Orton to open the fourth, but he failed to provide a spark and threw two interceptions. Kirsch then came back for the Boilermakers' final drive, capped by Jerod Void's 1-yard TD run with 8 seconds left. Michigan recovered the onside kick.
"Brandon had missed enough checks and enough open receivers that made us decide to give Orton a try,'' coach Joe Tiller said. "Unfortunately, the move didn't work for us, so we went back to Kirsch.''
Michigan and Purdue are the only Big Ten teams to play in a bowl game each of the last five years. With games left against Ohio State and Michigan State, that streak looks to be in serious jeopardy for Purdue.
"They are testing my patience,'' Tiller said. "If you can explain what's happened, then please let me know.''
On Michigan's first scoring drive, Navarre completed passes of 25 and 26 yards to B.J. Askew, setting up a 1-yard TD run by an untouched Askew. Askew ran for 42 yards and caught three passes for 73 yards.
A 29-yard completion from Navarre to Braylon Edwards led to a 33-yard field goal by Troy Nienberg for a 10-7 halftime lead.
Purdue controlled the clock in the first half, largely because of because of Kirsch's running. He had 51 yards in the first half and set up a few scoring opportunities, but kicker Berin Lacevic couldn't convert. Lacevic missed field-goal attempts of 41 and 40 yards in the first half, making him 3-for-10 on the season.
The 40-yard miss came when Purdue had fourth-and-2 at Michigan's 23 with 1:02 left in the first half. The miss cost the Boilermakers severely, as Nienberg made his field goal as time expired.
Kirsch passed for 172 yards and ran for 81 before but was pulled for Orton, who had started the previous 10 games. Orton finished 5-of-9 for 60 yards. Taylor Stubblefield caught 11 passes for 104 yards.
Kirsch's quickness gave Purdue more options than with the slower Orton. Midway through the second, Kirsch read the safety blitz, took off to his right and ran 22 yards to the 11. Three plays later, Kirsch scored on a bootleg.
"He really kept us off balance,'' Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said. "We would rush three or four, just trying to keep him in front of us. He would break out there and kept the chains moving.''
The often-criticized Navarre continued to look more comfortable in the pocket. Navarre, off a play-action fake, threw a 31-yard TD pass to Edwards and Calvin Bell ran 34 yards on a reverse for Michigan's second-half scores.
"That's the mark of a championship team,'' Navarre said. "No matter what the score is, what the time is, we're going to give ourselves a chance to win.''