- Matt Fortuna, ESPN Staff Writer
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Here's who stood out in the Irish's 20-17 victory Saturday over Purdue:
Everett Golson. Be it by design or opportunity, the training wheels came off for Golson. And, for the most part, the newcomer delivered. Absorbing five sacks and countless other big hits from the Boilermakers' line, Golson completed 21 of 31 passes for 289 yards, recording both a passing and a rushing touchdown while not throwing any interceptions. Of course, his fumble could not have come at a worst time, but he had a very impressive day.
Tommy Rees. Yes, he was just 3-for-8 for 35 yards (with two of those incompletions coming off spikes.) But to step in suddenly and deliver during the game's biggest moment after essentially one week of reps since the spring? It says a lot about Rees, who validated all of the preseason words of praise coaches and teammates showered him with. It's hard to imagine many college quarterbacks responding the way Rees did Saturday.
Tyler Eifert. Eifert had four catches for 98 yards before leaving in the second half with what coach Brian Kelly said he thinks is a concussion. The tight end was impossible to cover Saturday, and the senior certainly looked like a future pro against a very good Purdue defense.
Manti Te'o. Ten tackles and a hurry for the senior, who lost his cool a bit during an unnecessary roughness penalty on a punt but was instrumental in the defense holding Purdue to just 90 yards rushing.
Stephon Tuitt. Two more sacks for the monster end, one of which was made with one arm. That's four on the season, which is only two weeks old. He added two hurries, too. Mel Kiper might be onto something.
Louis Nix. The big fella in the middle recorded 1.5 sacks and tipped two passes at the line of scrimmage. With a bigger onus on both Nix and Tuitt with Kapron Lewis-Moore (calf strain) and Sheldon Day (dehydration) leaving early, the second-year players delivered.
Kyle Brindza. It's easy to forget that Brindza had never started as a field-goal kicker before, since he handled kickoffs last season. But a late-week groin injury to Nick Tausch forced Brindza in, and he delivered, going 2-for-3 and giving the Irish the win with his 27-yard strike with seven seconds remaining.