(Michael Floyd celebrates with Theo Riddick after scoring a touchdown in the first quarter of Notre Dame’s 2011 meeting with Purdue. (Photo: Matt Cashore-US PRESSWIRE, US PRESSWIRE)
Notre Dame came out of the gate quickly against Navy last weekend, jumping to No. 22 in the AP poll after a 50-10 victory over the Midshipmen in Dublin, Ireland. However, Purdue is not to be easily dismissed.
While the trip home from Ireland is a concern weighing on some people’s minds, Irish coach Brian Kelly seems to have a good plan for keeping his players rested while also preparing them for their next opponent.
“I think everybody has talked about how our team will bounce back from the trip to Ireland,” Kelly told reporters at his Tuesday news conference. “We had a great shakeout yesterday. Our guys had good energy and today we’ll have a full two-hour practice. … My own eyes, talking to our players, no excuses.”
Notre Dame and Purdue have met a total of 83 times, with Purdue trailing in the series 55-26-2. The Boilermakers are still an in-state rival, there are bragging rights involved and each meeting between them and the Fighting Irish is emotional. Notre Dame has not lost to Purdue in South Bend since 2004.
Purdue is coming off a 48-6 thrashing of Eastern Kentucky that saw senior quarterback Robert Marve ring up 295 yards and three touchdown on 30-of-38 passing.
The Irish offense, with quarterback Everett Golson at the helm, had no problem putting points on the board last week against Navy. Notre Dame rolled up 293 yards rushing (490 yards of total offense) and averaged nearly 6 1/2 yards per carry, But it will be interesting to see how they will fare against Purdue’s defense. The Midshipmen defense was a bit undersized versus Notre Dame’s offense and larger, more athletic Purdue team should be a better matchup for the Irish. Notre Dame will face two top defensive lineman on Saturday in Kawann Short and Bruce Gaston.
The Irish defense proved that they could stop the run quite effectively last weekend against Navy, but looked a bit unstable when the Midshipmen broke out the passing attack at the beginning of the second half. Hopefully those mistakes can be worked out this week at practice.
Purdue came out of the gates quickly last week as well. They also started a backup quarterback, Marve, with their starting quarterback, Caleb TerBush, sitting out a one-game suspension. Marve didn’t look like a backup at all last week, completing 30 of 38 passes for three touchdowns and 295 yards. Whatever quarterback the Irish face on Saturday, they figure to give Notre Dame’s defense a tough challenge.
Notre Dame also has a quarterback coming off a suspension with Tommy Rees expected to duel Golson for the starting job eventually.
I still feel that Notre Dame’s first real test will not occur until they face Michigan State Sept. 15 in East Lansing, Mich. But this is the weekend to find out if Notre Dame deserves the No. 22 ranking that they currently hold in the AP poll and the USA Today poll.
Notre Dame 35 – Purdue 14
Cheers & GO Irish!