There are so many factors to consider in this game that I don't think anyone could possibly accurately predict what we will see on Saturday. Will it be Holiday or will it be Quinn? Will the Irish come out throwing or running? How will Purdue prepare and which quarterback do they think will start? Does three straight wins over a team matter in a game like this? Are the Irish going to raise the white flag with a 1-2 record and no BCS bid in sight?
Sure, I can go over the particulars and the players, what's the point? We know Purdue is ranked 7th against the run. We know Purdue scores about 34 points a game. We know about Kyle Orton, Taylor Stubblefield, John Standeford, Shaun Rogers and Stewart Schweigert. We certainly know about the Irish particulars.
I usually go over the matchups for each unit at this point but this is a different game at a different time—a very different time.
This game will boil down to heart—the team with the most desire to win this game will win. Schemes, formations, misdirection, stretching the field, challenging a defense, all the buzzwords are thrown out in this game. This is a must-win for the Irish to have a good season. The Boilermakers are 2-1 and heading into their BIG TEN schedule and have lost three very close and consecutive games to the Irish. Which team will want this game more?
The Boilermakers are ranked, still undefeated in BIG TEN play and still in the hunt for the Rose Bowl. The Irish have no shot at their bowl—the National Championship. Playing for a Gator Bowl bid is like playing for the Shillelagh Trophy (the prize in this game)—nobody cares and most probably don't even know the trophy exists.
The Boilermakers lit up the scoreboard for 59 points in their last game against Arizona—the Irish have scored 45 total points all year. The Boilermakers have nine returning starters on defense—the Irish don't have a single returning starter along the offensive line for this game and might be starting a freshman quarterback in his first starting experience, on the road.
There are plenty of valid reasons for the Irish to lose this game but this is the type of game Notre Dame team's have risen to the occasion. I certainly felt the Michigan game was a similar opportunity and we know what happened in that game.
One cannot predict on the past and what he/she thinks can/will happen. You have to predict on the here and now. The here and now is Notre Dame hasn't been able to score points. They haven't picked up the blitz consistently, they haven't run the football effectively, certainly haven't thrown the football effectively and their defense hasn't made the plays on third down that a good defense makes.
I was obviously concerned the Irish would lose this game when I predicted Purdue to beat Notre Dame before the Irish kicked off their season. The Irish haven't given me any reason to change my mind. Purdue 28 Notre Dame 20