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Thursday, September 6, 2012
Notre Dame prediction: Week 2 vs. Purdue

By Matt Fortuna

Purdue and Notre Dame are both looking to go 2-0 as each returns quarterbacks from one-game suspensions. Is this the year the Boilermakers finally stop the bleeding against the in-state rival Irish, who have not lost to them since 2007? Let's take a closer look:

When Purdue has the ball: Caleb TerBush will get the start for the Boilermakers after being suspended from the opener, a 48-6 rout of Eastern Kentucky. Robert Marve was a big reason for that Week 1 success, completing 30 of 38 passes for 295 yards and three touchdowns. He and Rob Henry will see some action as well, but just how much coach Danny Hope divvies up the reps remains to be seen. Hope said TerBush gets the first snap because of his improved decision-making. If he's smart, he'll look to attack Notre Dame's green cornerbacks, as the Irish gave up 192 passing yards Saturday to Navy.

When Notre Dame has the ball: The main question is just how much of a push the Irish can get up front against Purdue's strong front-seven. The offensive line may be Notre Dame's biggest strength, and it certainly looked that way in paving the way for 293 rushing yards Saturday against the Midshipmen. But this Saturday it is going up against a far different defense, one that returns three starters on the line, including tackles Bruce Gaston and All-Big Ten senior Kawann Short. Taking pressure off Everett Golson will again be key, allowing the redshirt freshman some time in the pocket to look for some of his big targets.

Intangible: This may sound familiar to Notre Dame fans, but turnovers are the key. The fact that the Boilermakers gave it away five times in their opener — against an FCS opponent, no less — has to concern Hope, especially with four of those turnovers coming from the quarterback position. Notre Dame, meanwhile forced five fumbles Saturday and recovered three. Last season the Irish forced just eight and recovered six in 13 games.

Prediction: Notre Dame 28, Purdue 13. Expect a tight, low-scoring contest early, with the Irish eventually establishing another strong effort on the ground to head into East Lansing at 2-0.