Coming off a huge win in the final game – for now — of the long, storied series against the Michigan Wolverines, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish are moving forward with a ton of confidence. Sitting at 2-0 with two 31-point victories has to have the fans in South Bend begging for a possible second national title appearance in three years.
Since changing head coaches two seasons ago, the Purdue Boilermakers have been quite awful. Although Darrell Hazell will get this program turned around eventually, he may have to wait another year or two before his team can contend for a division, or conference, title.
After a yearlong suspension for academic reasons, Everett Golson has come back to barely miss a beat for the Irish under center. The senior quarterback missed all of 2013, but you wouldn’t be able to tell by his numbers and confident play on the field. Golson has completed 37 of 56 passes for 521 yards and five touchdowns in two starts this season, including engineering a 31-0 victory over Michigan. Although Golson’s top target, DaVaris Daniels, has been suspended indefinitely, he has found some help from guys like William Fuller, 13 catches for 174 yards and two scores, and Amir Carlisle, nine catches for 115 yards and two touchdowns. The run game has been anything but impressive, however, as Greg Bryant is the leading rusher with 90 yards and a score on 15 carries.
Things can only get better for the Boilermakers as they are coming off a 1-11 season with very few bright spots. Matching their entire win total from last season in week one was a big step, but Purdue took a step back when it lost to Central Michigan by three touchdowns in week two. Sophomore quarterback Danny Etling has gotten off to somewhat of a slow start, completing just 51 percent of his passes for 307 yards and two scores, but running for another 57 yards and two touchdowns. The second-year starter’s favorite target has been Justin Sinz who has caught 10 passes for 96 yards and a score while B.J. Knauf is close behind with seven catches for 71 yards. Raheem Mostert has come out of nowhere to put up career rushing numbers in just two weeks. The senior running back leads the team with 199 yards and a score on 41 carries.
Defensively, the Boilermakers have been out-gained in both of their first two games against MAC opponents. Purdue allowed 456 yards in a week one win and 333 yards in a week two loss – both times struggling against the run. Notre Dame, on the other hand, has allowed just 17 total points in two weeks. The Fighting Irish gave up just 367 yards in game one and an even more impressive 289 total yards in a week two shutout of Michigan. This defense could be returning to its old form.
Purdue will travel to Lucas Oil Stadium to take on Notre Dame at 7:30 p.m. EST on Saturday, Sept. 13. The game will be broadcasted on NBC.
PREDICTION: Purdue 10, Notre Dame 31
Connor Muldowney is a columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @Connormuldowney, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. You can also reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.