If there is one thing the Purdue Boilermakers can take to the bank about their annual clash with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, it’s that the game will always be in the national spotlight. The Irish are a team that always get plenty of attention across the country, and having them on the schedule means your team has a huge opportunity to show a mass audience what they are capable of.
Saturday will mark the 84th meeting between the two teams, and the Irish currently have a four game winning streak going against their rivals. The Boilermakers will be looking to avenge a 38-10 defeat from last season on their home soil.
It will no doubt be a challenge for Purdue to topple the Irish this week, as Notre Dame looked very impressive in a week one victory over the Navy Midshipmen. Freshman quarterback Everett Golson did not show any jitters in his first ever start as he went 12-of-18 for 144 yards and a touchdown.
Although Golson’s performance was soild, the victory was really earned thanks to the Irish rushing attack and defense. They rushed for 293 yards as a team, and backs Theo Riddick and George Atkinson each ran for two scores. On the flipside, the Irish defense allowed Navy’s triple-option offense just 149 yards on the ground. The feat marked the fewest rushing yards Notre Dame has given up against Navy since 1998.
Purdue also looked impressive in a 48-6 week one win over the Eastern Kentucky Colonels. Backup quarterback Robert Marve, who was starting for a suspended Caleb TerBush, didn’t miss a step going 30-of-38 for 295 yards and three scores. The issue the Boilermakers had was a total of five turnovers. They were fortunate to escape damage against the Colonels, but if they are that careless with the ball against Notre Dame, the Irish will surely make them pay.
It will be interesting to see if there is any type of quarterback controversy brewing in Purdue going forward. Marve had an outstanding outing last week, so if TerBush struggles on Saturday we could the backup get some action. Coach Danny Hope has never been shy about rotating his quarterbacks.
The most intriguing matchup of the day, and where the game will most likely be won or lost, is the Irish rushing attack versus the Boilermakers defensive line. Purdue boasts two excellent defensive tackles in Kawann Short, who is a potential first round pick next year, and Bruce Gaston. If they can slow down an Irish rushing attack that put up nearly 300 yards last week, and force Golson to throw more out of the pocket, Purdue has a real shot for an upset.
The Boilermakers have to look at Saturday’s showdown as a statement game. The Irish are now ranked 22nd in the nation and beating them will certainly make those around the Big 10 take notice, and might even be the first step for Purdue to work its way into the top 25.