Notre Dame Football Primer: #10 Irish face in-state rival Purdue Boilermakers

After two underwhelming performances to start the season, Purdue figures to pose a much larger test than originally expected for Notre Dame

After two gut-wrenching performances, the undefeated and now 10th ranked Fighting Irish will face a confident Purdue football team. The Boilermakers are off to a 2-0 start and undoubtedly will be upset-minded against their archrival, the Fighting Irish. Brian Kelly has a multitude of obstacles to work on this week, but Notre Dame still has a plethora of talent on both sides of the ball. If history is any indication, this will be a hard-fought battle for both programs.

Essential Game Info:

  • Game Time: Saturday, September 18th at 2:30 PM ET on NBC
  • Location: Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, Indiana
  • Matchup History: The Irish are 56-26-2 all-time against the Purdue Boilermakers (Last Meeting 2014: Irish won 30 to 14)
  • Trophy: The Shillelagh Trophy
  • Current Odds: Notre Dame -7.5

Weather Forecast

The current forecast for GameDay shows a 24% chance of rain with a high of 85 degrees and a low of 66.

Purdue Details:

  • Conference: Big Ten (West Division)
  • Head Coach: Jeff Brohm
  • 2021 Record: 2-0
  • 2020 Record: 2-4 (2-4)

Purdue Storylines:

The Boilermakers are off to a hot start. Though their two wins are against Oregon State and UCONN, Purdue is undefeated heading into week three, and they have matched their entire win total from the 2020 campaign. Therefore, one can expect the Boilermakers to enter Notre Dame Stadium with a lot of confidence, especially seeing the Irish escape with two 3-point victories.

Jeff Brohm is one of the best offensive minds in the country.  Although Purdue has not played well the past two seasons, Brohm did lead the Boilermakers to a massive upset in 2018 with a 49 to 20 win over the #2 Ohio State Buckeyes. Coach Brohm is known for his high-powered passing attacks, now led by quarterback Jack Plummer and wide receiver David Bell.

Under Head Coach Jeff Brohm, the Boilermakers love to run reverses and all lots of trick plays.

George Karlaftis and David Bell headline their key players. Karlaftis is one of the best defensive ends in the country. Although he did not play much in 2020, he is expected to go early in next year’s NFL Draft. Wide receiver David Bell was the Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 2019 and First-team All-Big Ten in 2020.

Both players are in-state products and will be major factors in this matchup. This season Karlaftis has 5 tackles and 0 sacks, while Bell has 14 receptions for 255 yards, and 3 touchdowns.

Notre Dame Storylines:

The Irish Offensive Line has been atrocious. Yes, Notre Dame lost four starters from a year ago, but almost every lineman on the roster was a 4-star recruit out of high school. In addition, the injuries to Blake Fisher and now Michael Carmody at left tackle have hurt the offensive line that was struggling even before the injuries.

With Jack Coan’s limited ability to run, defensives have locked in on Wiliams and Tyree in the backfield. However, Tyler Buchner’s speed forced Toledo’s defense to pause last weekend and provided a significant spark.

Quarterback battle in South Bend. It is a bizarre situation for Tommy Rees and the Irish Offense. Jack Coan has looked good in the passing attack but has struggled to escape the pocket, and his lack of mobility hurts the rushing game. Besides his pick-six last weekend, Coan has played admirably. Conversely, Tyler Buchner provided a catalyst on the ground and offense overall.

Buchner brings another dimension to the offense, but Coan had the game-winning drive against Toledo. So at this point, I think it is necessary to use both quarterbacks until the offensive line gets things figured out (if that ever happens).

Irish Defense continues to give up big plays. Surprisingly, Marcus Freeman’s unit did not surrender a touchdown until the fourth quarter (Toledo scored a touchdown on Jack Coan’s pick-six). But Notre Dame did give up two touchdowns in the fourth quarter when the contest was on the line.

On two separate occasions, Toledo had a 66-yard pass and 67-yard run that shredded the Irish Defense. If the Irish want to beat Purdue this week, they must eliminate the chunk plays.

Head-to-Head Matchups:

Notre Dame Offense vs. Purdue Defense: I was very close to making this matchup a tie, but I’ve decided to give the Irish the slight advantage. Notre Dame has averaged 37-points this season but has given up ten sacks in those games. On the other hand, the Boilermakers have given up only 21-points all season (albeit they played the worst program in FBS football last week).

Even though the offensive line is struggling, Tommy Rees has a plethora of talent in the backfield and receiver positions that can help the offensive line.

Advantage: Notre Dame

Purdue Offense vs. Notre Dame Defense: Ironically, the Fighting Irish have also compiled ten sacks along the defensive line. Marcus Freeman’s defense has wreaked havoc but also given up countless big plays. The Boilermakers and Jeff Brohm will certainly take advantage of the lapses they saw the last few weeks.

If the defensive line continues to get pressure, JD Bertrand leads the linebackers, and Kyle Hamilton can continue his dominance in the secondary, I give Notre Dame another slender advantage.

Advantage: Notre Dame

Special Teams: Purdue’s kicker, Mitchell Fineran, is 3 for 3 on the season with a long of 48-yards. Conversely, Jonathan Doerer is 3 for 4 on the year with a long of 48 yards.

There is no distinct advantage in this matchup.

Advantage: Tie

My Prediction:

Before the season, I would have picked the Irish to win by several touchdowns, but my prediction has drastically changed. There are countless question marks for both the offense and defense. The key to victory is going to be the turnover battle. Until the end of the Toledo game, the Irish were -3 in the turnover margin (finished -2).

Jeff Brohm’s creative offense and Notre Dame’s inability to prevent the “big plays” are significant concerns for the Irish Defense. For Brian Kelly’s Offense, DE George Karlaftis will be an issue for whoever the Irish play at left tackle.

If Tommy Rees can use the right mix of Jack Coan and Tyler Buchner, Notre Dame should still be able to put up points. Even with injuries, the Fighting Irish have too much talent and great coaching to keep playing this poorly. I hope this is the game where everything comes together for the Irish, but until then, I only have Notre Dame winning by a touchdown.

Prediction: Notre Dame 34 Purdue 27

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7 Comments

  1. I find it interesting that some ND fans are ready to bag this season in favor of next. Like this season is already a lost season and might as well get some work in for next.

    No. And again no. You do that when you’ve lost 3 or 4 games already with no light at the end of the tunnel. Not when you’re 2-0. When you are 2-0 you continue to work for THIS season.

    Fans have gotten so used to ‘maybe next season’ that we’ve become too quick to give up on this season. This is part of the reason why the PTBs at ND have been content not to shake things up and have not really insisted on NCs (despite saying that’s what they want). Too many of our fans are in the ‘maybe next season’ mindset. Well I’m sick and tired of waiting for ‘maybe next season.’ It’s part of the reason why we are perpetually outside looking in.

    When you are 2-0 you work for this season. If the coaching staff gets into the ‘let’s work for next season’ now, already, then they don’t deserve to be there. They need to fix the problems now and put the right players in the right places. We’re not dealing with 2 to 3 star players in most cases. We have 3 to 4 star players. FIX IT.

    Now, to be completely fair, I’ve heard nobody on the coaching staff talking about working for next season so this is just the fans at this point. But don’t let the coaching staff off the hook by forgetting this season. BK is a bit too comfortable that he’s not going to lose his job as long as they produce winning seasons with the occasional bowl win. And why wouldn’t he because that’s true.

      1. I pity you. Is your life so empty that you feel the need to troll a website for a team you so clearly don’t like.

        I don’t like Michigan or Miami. But I don’t go trolling around their websites heckling their fans. I frankly have better things to do with my time.

        If you like ‘Bama so much, then go on their website.

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