There simply is no love-loss in this game. These two teams hate each other, Purdue seems to hate the Irish more, and probably why they've had more success recently against the Irish.
Purdue has proven to be a consistent winner under coach Joe Tiller, but I'm quite certain he wants this monkey off his back and this streak to be over with. He's beaten Michigan, he's beaten Ohio State, but I believe this is one streak he'd like to end, and now.
The Boilermakers ran through Notre Dame's seven-on-seven last year, adding more fuel to the fire with these two teams. Was that planned? Of course it was. Was that smart? We'll see.
One would think that would motivate this Irish team, but we've seen Boston College tear up Notre Dame's turf, and that display of disrespect remains unanswered. Will this matter to Notre Dame?
When you look at this game, I see a lot of red flags to picking the Irish in this game. Veteran and very accurate quarterback, plenty of weapons on offense, motivated team on a 3-0 start, a team that hates the opposition more than the opposition hates them. There are plenty of red flags to consider.
We expect to see Purdue and Kyle Orton expose some weaknesses in what many consider to be a great Notre Dame defense. I do love this defense, but I still think they have weaknesses that haven't been tested by a veteran quarterback.
Where will Purdue test the Irish? I think it's dink and dunk, and then over the top. Purdue will try to lull the Irish secondary into playing physical and aggressive, and when they have them biting on the short routes, it's go time. They'll try to hit a number of big plays deep.
As impressive as the Irish secondary has been, we don't believe they've been tested deep. We will see that in this game.
We also believe the middle of the field, and in the flats—linebacker pass coverage—could be a real key in this game. Can the Irish linebackers cover? I think we're going to find out.
As for the other side of the ball, we expect Purdue to come after Notre Dame early and often. Purdue overwhelmed the Irish offense last year with their speed on defense. Many of those players have since moved on, but their defense does have the same type of speed as 2003. We expect to see quite a few blitzes, and the key for the Irish will be to make them pay for their blitzes—something they have been doing well this year.
I'm not sold on this Purdue defense regardless of their stats. I think they have some holes in their secondary, and I think you can run on this Boilermaker defense. I expect the Irish to exploit both.
Here is how I see this game. I expect to see the Irish defense play conservative, rush four, allow some yards, but play their end of the field, where they've been very good on defense. I also don't think Purdue has the power running game to be successful in the red zone.
The key for the Irish defense is forcing field goals on scoring threats because we do think this Purdue offense will amass some crazy numbers on Saturday.
People have talked about the Irish defense versus the Purdue offense match-up all week and have missed the real match-up of this game.
The real match-up is the Irish offense versus the Purdue defense. How many points can the Irish score against this Purdue defense?
We know the Boilermakers are going to score, but can the Irish hold serve on offense? We think they can. The Notre Dame offense will need to score quite a bit to win this game.
The Irish keep the streak alive and squeak out another victory over Purdue.
Notre Dame: 31 Purdue: 27