It’s Week 3 of the college football season and we have one of the oldest rivalry games on the docket between the Purdue Boilermakers and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. This will be the 85th meeting between the two squads and unless Purdue completes some magical transformation this week, it looks like the Irish will add to their winning series record.
The Boilers got their first win of the Darrell Hazell era last week against the Indiana State Sycamores. With that hurdle over, the team can now focus on perfecting their offense, which has struggled mightily this season. In two games, the Boilers have scored 27 points, including 20 against the Sycamores who allowed Indiana University to score 73 the week before. It’s not the start anyone would have imagined for Purdue, but if they plan on winning anymore this season, then they will need to fix the offense, starting with the quarterback position.
Fifth-year senior Rob Henry is struggling to grasp the West Coast offense after spending the last four seasons playing in the spread option. Henry has thrown for 311 yards and zero touchdowns so far this season, which is a bit disconcerting. It’s been almost three years since he last started and the rust is easy to see. Since Purdue got their first win of the season out of the way, they should be able to relax a little more this week and maybe that will give Henry a chance to relax and become more comfortable with the offense.
Both teams haven’t done much in their respective running games this year, which means the Boilers will need to focus on Irish quarterback Tommy Rees and his main target TJ Jones.
Rees leads the #21 ranked Irish with 660 passing yards and five touchdowns, with 232 yards and one touchdown being thrown to Jones in the first two games. The Irish looked strong against the Temple Owls in Week 1, but a little overmatched against the Michigan Wolverines in Week 2.
Purdue’s defense has looked shaky so far this season. They gave up 42 points against the Cincinnati Bearcats in Week 1 and then almost blew a 17-0 lead against the Sycamores last week. If Purdue has any hopes on beating the Irish, the defense will need to come ready to play and keep the Irish off the field.
For Purdue, the game plan is simple; keep the Irish off the field and make sure Rob Henry is comfortable in the pocket so the offense can create momentum. No one is expecting the Boilers to pull off the upset, but it would be a huge statement for Darrell Hazell and his team.