News and Notes: Keys to the Game

Which pass defense will step up and make some plays?

The statistics do not paint a pretty picture for either team. Purdue has the fourth worst pass defense in college football, giving up over 300 yards per game. Now granted Akron and Arizona were playing from behind and had to pass the ball. But any team that gives up that many yards is not doing a very good job of defending the pass. Notre Dame is not much better. The Irish defense allows 294 yards through the air and has been extremely susceptible to the big play. The Notre Dame offense has to keep its defense off the field. The Irish are winning the time of possession stat by nine minutes but it hasn't seemed to help. The difference between the two units? Notre Dame has created a few critical red zone turnovers. Last week against Washington, Chinedum Ndukwe and Ambrose Wooden made two big plays to stop Husky drives. But don't expect a good team like Purdue to hand the Irish gift miscues. Expect both teams to have field days through the air. Can Notre Dame keep getting key turnovers at big moments? Eventually the bend but don't break defense will catch up with them. Let's hope it's not this weekend.

How will Purdue bounce back?

Notre Dame knows the feeling. The Boilermakers are coming off a tough double overtime loss at Minnesota. The Golden Gophers had to convert a fourth and goal for a touchdown and a two-pointer just to send the game into the extra session. The Irish went through similar feelings after their overtime loss to Michigan State but rebounded against Washington in an emotional contest with old coach Tyrone Willingham. Purdue has to feel good about coming home to Ross-Ade Stadium but this is a team that had high aspirations for the season. A second consecutive loss would be a killer. Add that to the fact they haven't been effective in close games the past several years. Last season, Purdue lost five games by a combined 14 points. If the game is close, it has to be in the back of the Purdue players' minds what is at stake. Recent history would give the advantage to the Irish.


This is a big game for Notre Dame. Up next is the top ranked team in the nation, USC, and there is a big difference between 3-2 and 4-1 heading into that contest. The Irish do no catch any breaks with the game being at night and on the road against a rival. This contest has all the makings of a shootout. Both offenses are averaging in the thirties and both defenses have had their share of problems. But isn't that we thought the Michigan game would be as well? Bank on Brady Quinn and the receivers having another big game. The key to the game might be how effective Darius Walker is against a solid defensive line. The Boiler defense, though, did allow Minnesota to run for over 300 yards. If Darius can run like he has been the first month of the season, it should set up Notre Dame for the victory. Earlier in the week, I was leaning towards Purdue. But Weis at his Thursday press conference was in an extremely good mood, appearing confident and joking with reporters. Does he have a feeling how this game is going to go or just putting on a good face? Notre Dame squeaks by and gets an extra week to prepare for the biggest game at Notre Dame Stadium in some time. Irish 35 Purdue 28. Top Stories