Saturday's Keys

The Notre Dame football team has supposedly hit the soft spot of their schedule. Tell that to Purdue, who comes to South Bend with a 4-0 record and a seven-game winning streak dating back to last season. Expect the Boilermakers to be a tough challenge on Saturday, but the 12th-ranked Irish (3-1) should be able to pull it out.

Here are the keys to the game.

Contain Kory Sheets. The Purdue running back already has eight touchdowns and leads the nation in scoring. If Sheets is doing his thing, the Irish are going to have problems shutting down Curtis Painter and the spread offense. Painter is accurate and makes good decisions with the ball. The ND defense will have to be able to slow down Sheets with six guys in the box so they can defend the pass and blitz accordingly.

Score quick and early: If the Irish score quick and jump out to a two touchdown lead, this game will be over before the fourth quarter. The Boilermakers, who are the best team the Irish will face until USC, will take the field thinking they have a chance for an upset. However, if the ND offense can find an early offensive rhythm for the first time this season, Purdue's hopes will be dashed rather quickly.

Take care of business: The Notre Dame players are hearing everywhere how they are supposed to cruise through the next seven games before visiting USC. Purdue is no cupcake. This isn't the same talented Boilermakers' team from the past few seasons, but they are no pushover as well. The Irish have to show up and play their best game, let Purdue know who the most talented team is. ND is going to get everybody's best shot. They have to be ready for Purdue's.

Prediction: Notre Dame 38, Purdue 28: The game will never be as close as the score.

Offensive MVP: Jeff Samardzija: The shark will show why he was a consensus All-American last year, gaining over 150 yards and scoring two touchdowns as the Notre Dame offense hits it's stride.

Defensive MVP: Mike Richardson: It's the veteran's turn to get in on the act. The fifth-year senior will have double digit tackles and will force either a fumble or pick off a pass. Top Stories