Thursday, September 29, 2011
Prediction: Notre Dame Week 5
By Matt Fortuna
Notre Dame's 15-12 win at Pitt wasn't exactly easy on the eyes, but it was enough to get the Fighting Irish to .500. To leave West Lafayette with a winning record, the Irish will have to effectively do some of the things that helped them escape Heinz Field victorious.
The pass rush, for one, was able to replicate its Week 3 performance and make life miserable for Tino Sunseri in the backfield. Expect a carryover for the Irish on Saturday against a Boilermakers team allowing nearly three sacks per game.
Also, it's tough to imagine another defense negating Michael Floyd the way Pitt did. It's more perplexing given the fact the Panthers entered the game 119th nationally against the pass, and it's tough to gauge Purdue's 60th-ranked pass defense because of the light schedule it has faced so far.
But therein lies the big difference between these two teams. Notre Dame's schedule through four weeks ranks as fifth-toughest, according to statistician Jeff Sagarin. Purdue, which has played just three games, has had the easiest schedule among FBS schools. The lights will be on and Ross-Ade Stadium will be rowdy for what Brian Kelly said will be his opponent's Super Bowl, but Tommy Rees and the Irish's experiences in worse conditions so far will make it less intimidating against an inferior opponent.