Friday, September 13, 2013
Notre Dame prediction: Week 3 at Purdue
By Matt Fortuna
I was right in last week's outcome, but little else.
When Notre Dame has the ball: Purdue has a solid defensive line, although not as good as last year's, which was good enough to almost help deliver the Irish a loss in their home opener. Tommy Rees has responded well after losses. According to ESPN Stats & Information, he has an 11-3 touchdown-to-interception ratio in games after his six career multi-interception contests, with the Irish going 5-1 in those bounce-back games. Losing seems almost out of the question here, and Rees will not (and should not) be asked to throw the ball 51 times. The backfield pecking order could clear up a little bit here, especially against Purdue's green linebackers. Also worth noting: Purdue lost starting safety Landon Feichter last week to a broken right leg.
When Purdue has the ball: Rob Henry is a mobile quarterback, although he does not present nearly the challenge that Devin Gardner did last week. And he will be without his top target, as tight end and leading receiver Gabe Holmes suffered a wrist injury this week that will sideline him for an extended period of time. Purdue's offense has been sloppy through two games, totaling just 27 points on the season and ranking 108th nationally in total offense. The Boilermakers average just 2.9 yards per carry. Notre Dame's defensive line should have a field day against an offense that could not punch the ball in from the goal line on two possessions last week … against FCS Indiana State.
Intangible: Purdue has the home-field advantage and a night-game atmosphere, plus whatever remaining confidence could be gained from nearly pulling off the upset last year … but not much else. First-year coach Darrell Hazell has had his work cut out for him through two games, and he is running into a Notre Dame defense that is tired of being questioned after an uncharacteristic performance in last week's loss at Michigan.
Prediction: Notre Dame 38, Purdue 7. This game is just what the doctor ordered for the Irish.