Irish head coach Tyrone Willingham met with the media after Notre Dame's final practice of the week and made no bones about what the Irish had to do to beat Purdue on Saturday.
"When you get right down to it, it's going to be our ability to contain their great quarterback, and all the weapons he has at his disposal," Willingham said. "If we can do that, and generate an offense that stays on the field, and at the same times scores points, we have a chance to win."
Time of possession is usually a key stat when facing a high-powered offense. If a team can keep an opposing offense off the field, they'll have a much better chance to win. Willingham said time of possession would be important, but points would be more important."
"We may have time of possession because they may do an amazing number of passes," said Willingham. "If they throw it 50 times, you're still going to have a few three-and-outs in there, and we could still own time of possession. It's going to be that, along with scoring points, that's going to be the key."
Usually in a game of two closely matched teams, specials teams play a factor and Willingham agreed that special teams could be the difference in the game.
"I think where you're going to see that extra edge is somewhere on special teams," Willingham admitted. "Usually that's going to be the area that probably sneaks away from someone and really make a difference. Hopefully we'll have that edge in special teams."
The Irish do have some extra motivation for this game, however. The Boilermakers disrupted the Irish seven-on-seven last year in West Lafayette as the Irish were warming up to play the game. Willingham said the episode won't the difference in the football game on Saturday, but admitted it couldn't hurt.
"You tell your football team that that's not going to decide the football game—who runs through one's group, whatever. What's going to decide the football game is how aggressive we play," Willingham said. "Could that heighten one's aggressiveness? It could do that."
"It's probably questionable with Stovall. Again, at game-time we'll make it. It's probably probable with Grant," Willingham said.
Not much is left to say or do but tee it up. This should be a fun game to watch.