After an ugly win last week, Notre Dame tries to get above the .500 mark this week when they travel to take on intrastate rival Purdue. The Boilermakers have struggled the past few seasons, but have been a tought opponent for the Irish. ND won last year, but never could put them away. 2009 saw the Irish score with less than 30 seconds left to win in West Lafayette. On paper, Notre Dame should win fairly easily, but, unfortunately, they don’t play the games on paper.
NOTRE DAME PREVIEW
Through four games, Notre Dame has turned it over 15 times. 15! Most of those have been via Tommy Rees who has thrown six interceptions and fumbled it twice more. Still, Rees has played well and has cleaned up his act in the second half of games. It’s as if he gets the poor play out of his system in the first half then sharpens up after halftime. The turnovers are maddening, but that’s the way it’s been. Hopefully they’ll clean it up even more as we go on.
The good news for the Irish is that the offense, other than the turnovers, has played extemely well. The running game is back and the receiving corps is solidified with Tyler Eifert becoming an enormous threat after Michael Floyd. Of course, the defense has been spectacular. They’ve really played dominant or nearly dominant football for 15 of the 16 quarters this season. If that continues, the Irish will have a great chance to win the rest of their games.
Purdue is getting healthy again and now have options at quarterback. After probable starter Rob Henry went down with a knee injury, Caleb TerBush took over and has played well completing 63% of his passes for 546 yards with three touchdowns and only one pick. He’s also rushed for 95 yards and a touchdown as well. Returning last week was last year’s starter Robert Marve. Marve went 7-8 last week for 91 yards and a touchdown in seeing his first action since tearing his ACL last season. With Marve back, the Boilers now have two legitimate quarterbacks on their roster. We will most likely see both guys on Saturday.
Rushing the ball, Ralph Bolden and Akeem Shavers have led the way combining for 409 yards and five touchdowns. They’re not an explosive team on the ground but can grind it out. In fact, 11 players have had carries already.
Two players have caught double digit passes led by Justin Siller with his 14 catches for 138 yards. O.J. Ross is right behind with 11 grabs for 111 yards. Maybe a big surprise has been Antavian Edison who is averaging 22.8 yards per catch.
On defense, Purdue gives up almost 322 yards a game, but has allowed just six touchdowns. The Boilermakers have only given up two rushing touchdowns and are holding teams to just 109 yards on the ground per game. They haven’t exactly played murderer’s row, but when you can hold your opponent to so few rushing yards, you give yourself a chance to win almost every time.
Nothing is easy and I don’t expect Purdue to just roll over on Saturday, but the fact of the matter is, Purdue just isn’t a very good football team. They BARELY beat Middle Tennessee in week one and lost to Rice in week two. They crushed Southeast Missouri last week, but they should have crushed Southeast Missouri last week. The offense isn’t great and the defense hasn’t played a team as talented and explosive as Notre Dame. The Irish should have every opportunity to win going away. If they don’t win comfortably, then something really wrong will have happened and we’ll have an entirely new set of concerns on Sunday.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame – 33, Purdue – 14