Irish Stewed: Deconstructing Marve and Beating the Boilers

Let me be upfront about a couple things. First off, I probably like Purdue more than most Notre Dame fans; at the very least, I’m not as relentlessly condescending and pompous as some of my Irish peers when it comes to discussing the Boilermakers . My sister is a Purdue alum—two sisters actually attended, one graduated—and I can recall (or not recall) many drunken moments spent at Harry’s Chocolate Shop (I went ugly early), T.A. Toms (our Breakfast Clubs during Grand Prix weekend were epic) and various fraternities and sororities (shout out to the Phi Kaps and KKGs). Sure, West Lafayette is somewhat of a dump, but when you’re on a campus surrounded by South Bend, you hardly have room to cast aspersions.

Purdue is 5-0 in season openers since 2005, but the Boilermakers are just 1-4 against the Irish in the same time span.  (Photo - Icon SMI)
Purdue is 5-0 in season openers since 2005, but the Boilermakers are just 1-4 against the Irish in the same time span. (Photo - Icon SMI)

Secondly, I still don’t really respect this year’s Purdue team. To me, Notre Dame’s serial mismanagement of its football program has incapacitated some of you to the point of complete idiocy. No, we should not be afraid of the Boilers.
“But Mac, their defense returns pretty much its entire front seven.”

Uh, would that be the same front seven that was DEAD FREAKING LAST against the run in the Big Ten last season? Open your eyes, people. Purdue’s strength was its pass defense. And how many starting DBs did they lose to graduation in the offseason. ALL FOUR OF THEM!

“But Mac, Miami-transfer Robert Marve is a dangerous weapon at QB.”

So, let me get this straight. Marve had three times the talent at Miami, he had an abysmal 1-1.5 TD-INT ratio while being sacked 18 times, and we’re supposed to assume he’ll come to a team with less talent and suddenly be great? He’ll be throwing to arguably one semi-elite receiver, and Purdue’s best offensive skill player from 2009, running back Ralph Bolden, is out for the year with a torn ACL.

Prediction: Notre Dame by 14+.

But enough about that. The Kelly Era is finally upon us, and I leave it to other more knowledgeable talking heads—i.e. anyone but Desmond Howard—to break down the matchups. For me personally, as I said, Purdue will always hold a soft spot in my heart. I remember attending the ND-Purdue game in ’84, the first-ever football game in the Hoosier Dome in Indianapolis. It was a disappointing 23-21 loss that finally forced my father to utter the words, “I’m beginning to think Faust isn’t the man for the job.” Faust was kind enough to lose again to Purdue the following year 35-17 and leave no doubt in anyone else’s mind. But then in ’86, reeling from two heartbreakingly close losses to Michigan and Michigan State, the Lou Holtz Era finally got off the ground with a 41-9 drubbing of the Boilermakers. In Lou’s eleven years at Notre Dame he not only went a perfect 11-0 versus Purdue, he beat them by an average score of 39-11.

My lasting memory of Lou’s streak will forever be the 17-0 win at West Lafayette in September of 1993. I attended the game with my sister and my girlfriend, a girlfriend who by February of the following year would be my fiancé and by August of ’95 would be my wife. The game was played in a driving rainstorm, and Notre Dame was sloppy. They held a 7-0 lead for most of the game, and Lou later apologized for scoring a late touchdown, lamenting that Purdue had played their hearts out and somehow didn’t deserve to be scored on again. (Needless to say, I disagreed with that sentiment.) About halfway into the fourth quarter I said to my sister, her clothes soaked to the bone, “We can go if you want.” The Purdue sophomore wearing ND gear from head to toe looked at me crying and said, “Then you’re going to have to drag my ass out of here.”

My sister had attended the last Purdue game in South Bend on September 26, 1992 with our father. Five days later, on October 1, Dad was killed in a car accident. My sister never made it to the hospital. For her, at least until the passage of time could mollify what sheer willpower could not, seeing the Irish take down the Boilermakers was her desperate attempt to hold on to a memory of Dad, if not Dad himself.

If you want to stick out your chest and start spewing hubris about the Boilermakers being a backwater Indiana school that regionalizes our identity, go for it. But I’m not taking that hill with you. I hope we play Purdue forever, preferably beating them forever by an average score of 39-11.

McSweeney is a longtime blogger and poster on UHND. His novel, EXOTIC MUSIC OF THE BELLY DANCER, a coming-of-age story about sex, drugs, rock n’ roll, and Notre Dame football, is available as an e-book on Amazon by clicking here.

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  1. It’s finally here boys! I look forward to discussing, debating and analyzing the 2010 season with you all.

    Too many offensive weapons for Purdue to handle effectively. I expect a couple turnovers from first game jitters and probably some ND secondary burns- to be expected.

    ND 28
    Purdue- 17

  2. I’m a Hoosier native and wish all teams in the state the best, except when they play against the Irish.
    With that being said, I find it hard to believe that ND will win by any less than three touchdown. The wild card in the equation is, of course, turnovers. I am particularly interested in how well the offense performs in the 3rd qtr. Last year the team appeared to be lethargic opening the second half. Yes they put points on the board in the half, however, it seemed as if they waited until the 4th qtr to get churning.

    As I posted before, and as with any team, the play of the offensive and defensive lines will determine the success of the season. Crist will only pass to the level of his protection, Allen (and the rest of the RB committee) will only run as far as his blocks, and a championship will only come to the team whose defensive line can minimize rushing yards and pressure the opposing QB consistently. The skills players provide excitement and glitz, the lines provide fire, venom, and wins.

    Robert Marve would not be the first QB to leave the state of Florida and lay an egg, and he wasn’t even successful at that criminal institution in the first place.

    Go Irish!!

    ND – 34
    PU – 13

  3. I would agree with C-Dog, I don’t hate Purdue, however, I do want to win against Purdue also. Surely, Purdue has to be on our A list of teams to play. Atleast they follow the rules. Contrary to popular belief, I can live without playing USC and Miami because they are simply car salesman in white wedding dresses. They are without question the antithesis of college football.

  4. Mac, I might take issue with the implication that many fans don’t like Purdue. My grandfather taught at both schools. But as an Irish fan, I only hate two teams, USC and Miami. Any team that cheats makes that list. Purdue is not one of those teams. I still want ND to win the game, but that’s all. And I do think if Kelly is on track, that Notre Dame should win by a large margin. The competition among the members of the team has raised the level of play such that potentially they’ll be readier to hit the field without 1st game jitters being significant. Any early success will steamroll because this team lost it’s coach last year. They want to prove something to themselves.

    As you’ve pointed out, MAC, unless the new QB beats ND single handedly, this one should be lopsided. That’s only counting on what we think Kelly has done with the team. Purdue is not a Nevada. They’ll play and play tough. Kelly’s coming out party. I’m hoping I can let down the guard on my optimism.

    1. C-Dog,

      I’m somewhat surprised that BC didn’t make your list of “most hated” teams.
      I know that they are Irish and Catholic and all, but good lord, what
      a bunch of classless, drunken reprebates!
      For me, since they hate us, I hate them back. Plus, I have a long memory. I remember the spitting, the curseing, the foulness, and the tearing up of our beloved home field. If their is one team that I would like to see beaten 60-0 it them and their ugily ass fans.

      1. Shazamrock,
        Yes, I understand. I will say I don’t like their fans. But truly we should pray that they all get into AA or some other rehab program. The Jesuits sometimes make up their own version of Catholicism, but maybe Father Jenkins does too. And BC is not known to cheat. Unfortunately for BC fans, that program will be a mid-level program for a long time now. So their fans will have to deal with that while trying to sober up.

        Penn State is another potential there. Many of the PSU fans can’t read and seem to come from parts of the state where moonshine is still made. They hate ND and talk about the long standing ND PSU traditinoal rivalry. No joke. A lot of Catholic hate in Pennsylvania, including current KKK rallies along the Susquehanna south of Harrisburg. But Pennsylvania sports fans hate their own teams as much as their opponents. Joe Potato is a god until his first loss. Then they want ot lynch him.

        BC and Penn St. are on my watch list, but Miami and USC have flaunted cheating, something ND and colleges that actually provide an education stand against.

    1. What a game. I hope Pitt keeps winning. And Utah. Notre Dame needs to beat those teams, of course, but we also need them to be successful. ND needs at least 3 or 4 opponents to be ranked to even have a shot at something significant. That’s even with 10 wins. Very wishful thinking on my part, but hey, the season is young and full of promise.

  5. I really feel that our D line will have much to do with the outcome of this season. We need those upper-classmen to bust through and get some sacks, and start controling the game. With that, it will give Dayne more of an opportunity to control the offensive side of the game.

    We are, ND!

    1. Kyle –

      Run defense will be much improved, pass rush much of the same – the secondary is the weak link although admittedly we are currently undefeated… unproven is a better term to use….

  6. mac, where did the irish rank in D last year…..try 84th in rudhsing D, and 63 in pts against. which is right in-line with purdue.

    the fact of the matter is both team or average at best…..

    1. See, that’s your problem Mr. Troll….you dont know how to think above average. You haters starting to worry yet? ND is back. Deal with it.

      By the way, you know how to break a Purdue Fan’s finger?

      Punch him in the nose.

      Go Irish!

  7. I have a couple good friends who graduated from Purdue, as well as a cousin who graduated from their highly-regarded MBA program. So, I also have a softness for Purdue (as opposed to how I feel about Michigan or BC, and
    don’t get me started on the three main schools in Florida) Speaking of which, did you hear the main library at
    Miami burned to the ground yesterday? The real tragedy was that 4 books weren’t even COLORED IN yet!

    Seriously, having lost a relative to a car accident in the last year and a half, I can sympathize with your family.
    My best wishes to your family and of course, to the Irish!

  8. I guess a lot of us on this site can not look at this as an easy win because of post Lou years. I can remember student teaching in PA and the Irish playing Pitt in 1996. The teacher I was working with went to the game in South Bend. One of the kids in the class was a Pitt fan and was trying to say Pitt had a chance and I told him that the program was dead. Fourteen years later I would look like an idiot to ssy that. I grew up watching ND football starting with Faust but really remember Holtz. It is hard for me to get excited because of the let downs we have had since Lou left. I hope Kelly is the answer. I don’t believe that the school can’t get the elite athelete or be in the hunt for a BCS every year, but I think it takes the right hire in order to make that happen. I like what I see from Kelly so far, but don’t want to get my hopes up. I do however believe that we have talent on both sides of the ball to be in the National Championship hunt, but the players have to believe that.

  9. I went to the 1991 ND-Purdue game in West Layfette. It was my first Notre Dame game. I didn’t have great seats but I was sitting by a Purdue season ticket holder (I don’t think they got their regular seats for the ND game) and he was really bad mouthing his own team. I finally told him that he really didn’t have it so bad because I was from Wichita and had season tickets to Wichita State the last two years they had their football program. These tickets were on the 50 yard line about half way up and cost me $7.50; not a ticket but for the whole season. A buck fifty per game! WSU still couldn’t draw more than five or six thousand per contest and the program was cancelled after the 1986 season. After that he quieted down about his own team and started bashing ND. I guess I should’ve kept my mouth shut.

  10. Love it McSweeney.

    I agree with your sentiments about Purdue. For me, the 2007 game in WL was my first time getting to see ND live.

    I’d convinced 3 friends to make the drive up from Dallas Texas with me. Don’t ask me how I did it, 1 wasn’t much of a football fan, and the other 2 were longhorn fans. But we drove up there, we went out on the town, and we had an awesome time doing it.

    Personally, I liked the Purdue fans. Having seen Texas Tech, A&M, and OU fans, I found them to be refreshing. I thought the bars had some real character and I had a great time.

    The game itself wasn’t exactly fun (losing never is). But I’ll never forget that feeling of seeing the Golden Helmets live for the first time. It gave me chills. I will also never forget watching Golden Tate be ridiculous.

    Man I’m pumped for Saturday. It’s going to be Riddickulous.

  11. I went to many ND games. From the late 60’s thru the early 80’s. It was always a father / son event. And the majority of those games were against the Boilers. Dad has long since passed away, but each year when these two teams meet, it always rekindles fond memories. I too hope we continue to play Purdue.
    Having them as the first game of the season, as well as the first home game is somewhat rare.
    In all my years of following ND football, I can’t recall there being so much anticipation and pre-game excitement for the opening of a season.
    There is a new head coach and staff, a new QB, a new offense. NBC will have a new broadcaster (Mike Myock) and, as I understand, a new camera suspended from cables, to give us at home overhead views of the action.
    The game will also be televised accross Euroupe and Asia live for the first time.
    There is an excitement in the air that I haven’t seen in some time. The fans feel it. And I think the team can feel it too.
    Purdue, they are in over their heads in this one. It’s a coming out party.
    Our kind of party!
    And they are the cake!
    WE ARE, ND!

    1. coming out of the closet party maybe….

      don’t see why you are so anxious to see a team that was 6-6 last year, who lost their qb, and was ranked 63rd last year in pts. against, and 84th in rushing D.

      nd isn’t even ranked in the pre-seaon top 25..

      1. KP,

        The juniors and seniors on this team were both part of a top 5 recruiting classes comming out of high school.
        This team has as much talent as anybody in the country.
        I blame their their short comings on poor coaching on both sides of the ball.
        They now have a real college coach and a manageable schedule.
        Believe me when I say pre-season rankings aren’t all that they are made out to be.
        It’s not where you start, but where you finish that is important.
        Speaking of coming out of the closet, I haven’t noticed your name around here before.
        I assume that you are one of those half-assed, fair weather, turtle-necking, so called fans, that doesn’t know jack about football. I’m sure that if guys have a great season, your name will be everywhere come December, proclaiming to anyone who will listen, that you told us so.
        Good job pointing out that ND isn’t ranked in the top 25.
        Nothing exscapes your keen eye for details. Keep up the good work.

      2. Shaz,

        I think it’s just a random goober.

        I doubt we’ll see him on here past september 4th.

        For those playing the home game: a Goober is a term I came up with last year for fans of the opposing team who show up to post during game-week. It’s a term of endearment I use on my dog who, while she tries to behave and follow the rules, occasionally can’t help herself and pisses on the carpet. (or at least she did as a puppy).

      3. Why wouldn’t you want to see the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame? Much of the rest of college football now represents the gangland that will turn this once great nation into a 3rd world cesspool.

        Notre Dame still remains connected to an era when America was great. Men were expected to act responsibly and more often did. Greatness came from teamwork and individual effort.
        Anyone who likes Rudy, Hoosiers, Remember the Titans, field of Dreams, The Lou Gehrig Story or any other inspirational sports moment, Notre Dame is still it.

        We’re idealists who want the best out of ourselves, our school and our country. That’s why we watch the Irish!

        God, Country, Notre Dame!

      4. I should know better by now.
        Every year it’s the same.
        One or two days before the opening game of the season, thes neysayers and doom & gloomers come out of the woodwork like cockroaches at a fleabag hotel.
        This “goober” is probably some 20 yr old who never experienced the glory years at ND. That’s when we had the very best student athelets in the country. Not only did they excel on the field, but were exceptional in the classroom as well. While we have maintained our acedemic excellance, the time has come for us to reclaim our rightfull place amoung the best on the football field.

        Gridiron Glory – “That attractive rainbow that rises high above a rejoicing stadium on a autumn afternoon, born from the showers of blood and sweat,
        struggle and perseverance”

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