The Irish are coming off a difficult loss to Michigan last weekend and now travel to Purdue. The Boilermakers haven't exactly set the world on fire both offensively and defensively, but this is still a rival game between two in-state teams. Will the Irish right the ship? And if so, will they look good doing it?
There is no good reason for the Irish to struggle in this game. Purdue's defense isn't awful, but they've played Cincinnati and Indiana State---neither team has shown they're a great team at this point. The Boilermakers have held their opponents to 130 yards rushing per game thus far, but I can't see any reason the Irish don't eclipse 200 yards rushing on Saturday, and I think that will be a focus for ND heading into this game.
While I know many Irish fans are hoping for the reserves to be playing most of the second half, my guess is we likely won't see that until the fourth quarter. The Irish should roll over Purdue, and likely will in the end, but it's a very rare occasion when Notre Dame blows a team out by half time. They should, considering the opposition, but I'm not sure they will.
Notre Dame: 38 Purdue: 7
The Irish will be in bounce-back mode Saturday night and I have a feeling it’s not going to be pretty for the Boilermakers. If you’re on Purdue’s coaching staff and your team is playing as poorly as it is, the last thing you wanted was for Notre Dame to get beat by Michigan. Brian Kelly’s squad will be fired up and ready to expel some aggression when the ball finally kicks off this weekend in West Lafayette.
The Purdue defense will have the typical adrenalin rush a lesser team finds when they face a daunting task, but that will subside by the halfway point of the first quarter. The Purdue front seven isn’t bad and the Irish offensive line will have to come to play, but the number of weapons Notre Dame has on offense will overcome the Boilermaker defense in the air and on the ground. Look for the Irish to pound the ball when they can and keep the big play aspect of the offense on display with some timely play action. I expect Greg Bryant and Tarean Folston to both get career touchdowns number one Saturday night.
As much as we hope the Notre Dame defense improves this week, I’m afraid even if they shut Purdue out it won’t be a clear indicator of whether or not they’ve made any progress since the Michigan game. The Boilermaker offense has scored a total of 20 points against Cincinnati (who lost last week to Illinois 45-17) and Indiana State. Purdue’s leading receiver, tight end Gabe Holmes is out for the season and that’s bad news for quarterback Rob Henry, who doesn’t have too many more weapons to throw to. I wouldn’t be surprised if Purdue makes a quarterback change in the first half of this game if their offense continues to struggle.
Notre Dame: 38 Purdue: 9
It may not be the cleanest win, but it is a win and it's exactly what the Irish need after last week's disappointing loss to Michigan in Ann Arbor.
Tommy Rees gets himself on track early with a couple of quick scoring drives, including a scoring pass to Troy Niklas in the first quarter that gives the Irish an early 10-0 advantage. Purdue's offense starts moving the second quarter, but a fumble sets them back and Greg Bryant's first career touchdown run gives the Irish a 17-3 lead at halftime. Purdue cuts the lead to 17-13 in the third quarter, but Notre Dame shakes off a sluggish start to the second half with a pair of touchdowns to start the fourth.
Touchdown passes to DaVaris Daniels and TJ Jones seal the victory for the Irish.
Notre Dame: 31 Purdue: 13
After a head-spinning week, Purdue offers a get well game for the Fighting Irish this weekend. The Boilermakers (1-1) have scored just one offensive touchdown in their first two games under new head coach Darrell Hazell. They will be fortunate if they come away with even one touchdown against the Irish.
Purdue is averaging just 2.9 yards per carry and just 9.4 yards per reception in games against Cincinnati and FCS foe Indiana State. Quarterback Rob Henry, who returns to a starting role for the first time since 2010, does not have a strong arm, but he is somewhat mobile. He is in nowhere near Devin Gardner's league, but look for the Boilers to try to use Henry as a runner.
Purdue is just lacking in talent all the way around. Hazell will take his lumps this season and the Irish will win handily in this intrastate series that has been continuous since 1946.
Notre Dame: 41 Purdue: 9