Dan: Notre Dame
Purdue is +1 against D1 opponents this year on scoring margin. And those two opponents are Rice (loss) and Middle Tennessee (win). That is not a good start for the boilers. They may have creamed D-1AA opponent Southeast Missouri State. Notre Dame has no excuses this week. Big win for the Irish.
Notre Dame 31 Purdue 13
Not the prettiest win, but it was great to see Tommy Rees lead another big-time 4th quarter drive, and the defense pin their ears back and get after the QB to ice the game. At this point, it seems like the great rush defense that defined the 4-0 end to 2010 is legit. The ND front seven is extremely good defending the rush, and they've faced some pretty solid rushing offenses this far. Bodes well for some of the teams that ND will be facing in the next few weeks, including Purdue, Air Force and Navy.
With all the turnovers and mistakes so far this year, its really difficult to predict a blowout with any confidence, but I do really think that the Irish are on the verge of a breakout game that could get them rolling towards the second half of the season.
ND 34 Purdue 13
Jimmy: Notre Dame
Climbing back above .500 will be a welcome sight. Purdue will find moving the ball an uphill battle. A couple odds and ends courtesy of the SB Tribune's Eric Hansen show the Irish defense is playing darn good ball: ND defense has allowed 1 rushing TD all season, and that was the immaculate fumble recovery by Denard Robinson, a cruel result they certainly didn't deserve. In their last 9 games, going back to last year's Tulsa game, the defense has allowed 2 rushing TDs total, tops in the NCAA over that span. With the evil rash of turnovers afflicting the offense, Te'o and his men have answered the bell admirably. Despite short fields and little recovery time, ND's last 9 offensive turnovers have only yielded 2 field goals. Otherwise, the defense has earned the ball back by punts or turnovers. Quite the accomplishment. This is all a long way of saying the Irish stuff the Boilers and minimize opportunities to bang the world's largest drum. Cierre Wood and Jonas Gray enjoy big nights and Mike Floyd reminds the nation that he's a top NFL prospect.
ND 36 Purdue 17
Mike: Notre Dame
The 2011 Irish are becoming mighty predictable. Sticking with the usual script, Notre Dame’s defense will stifle the Boilermaker running attack, which has been able to feast on terrible competition. It is unclear whether Robert Marve or Caleb TerBush will start at QB for Purdue, but the Irish front seven should be able to pressure either signal caller into some mistakes. Hopefully, the coaching staff will rely upon said front seven and resist the urge to bring slow developing corner blitzes on 2nd and long in the red zone, as they did last week.
On the other side of the ball, Purdue will likely attempt to replicate the game plan employed by Pittsburgh: pinch up on the wide receivers to take away the underneath patterns, double team Mike Floyd and dare Rees to throw over the top. I think the Irish will do a better job countering this approach, although you can certainly expect more interceptions and fumbles for Rees, whose leash is longer than the Great Wall of China. Special teams should be its usual disaster too.
Again, the Irish will let a less talented team hang around before eventually pulling away. Purdue is perhaps the worst team in the Big Ten, so this game should be a cakewalk for Notre Dame, but nothing seems to come easy for this team. In addition, the task will be complicated by the usual county fair-like atmosphere at Ross-Ade Stadium (led by the self proclaimed World’s Largest Drum!), where the Irish are just 3-4 in their last 7 visits. My goal? To avoid breaking my TV in a blacked out fit of frustration.
Notre Dame 28 Purdue 27
Phil: Notre Dame
Before I get started on the pick, lemme give a big shout out to my cousin Peters Drey, who will be starting on the OLine for the Boilers, and a large contingent of Mobile's Lebanese clan will be on hand to watch the match, including my little brother Matthew. While I will be cheering for the Irish to get the win, I hope "little" cuz Peters wreaks havoc on the Irish D Line, at least for most of the game.
Onto the pick, I find the Irish lovably frustrating. We show flashes of brilliance at times, with Wood and Floyd and Lynch, and yet, we still make the same ol' bonehead mistakes that have become so commonplace since Lou left. I have no doubt we should come out and dominate Purdue, but I know that it will not be that way. I think the Boilers will play inspired football, and really give us a run for our money.
I have an analogy for Notre Dame football, and it ironically is likened to Irish hoops. During the Big East regular season, our "fundamental" white boys are able to get good looks, control the tempo, play solid basketball and take advantage of mistakes, thus landing us high in the ranks for the regular season. However, when the NCAA tournament comes, there is a heightened sense of urgency. Teams play with a little extra passion, a little extra fire. Now, when Abromaitis had 0.9 seconds to release his jumper in regular season play, he now has only 0.5 seconds, and the result is a miss. For the Irish football team, every game is like a tournament game. We get every team's maximal effort and I do not think we are the point we can overcome such effort, without playing our best football. I hope we get there someday.
Irish 26 Boilers 17