This week's edition of Just the Facts offers both fan bases the series' singular key to victory and more than a few disturbing statistical trends as the Irish prepare for the Boilers.
1 – Night games won by the home team at Ross-Ade Stadium in school history. The Boilermakers are 1-4 in five contests under the lights with the lone win occurring vs. Toledo (51-17) in the 1994 season-opener.
2 – Rushing touchdowns by ex-Notre Dame fullback Rashon Powers-Neal vs. Purdue in the teams' 2005 matchup in West Lafayette. Powers-Neal's early 2nd Quarter touchdown plunge from one-yard out marks the most recent rushing touchdown scored by a fullback in the Weis era (a span of 48 games and 194 quarters). Backup fullback Ashley McConnell caught a touchdown pass from Brady Quinn in the first quarter of the 2006 contest vs. Michigan.
3 – The fewest number of touchdowns scored in a single game by Purdue vs. Notre Dame in the Weis era. The Boilers have scored 28, 21, 33, and 21 points in four matchups vs. Weis' Irish, (ND has won three of four meetings).
4 – Victories by Purdue over Notre Dame in Ross-Ade Stadium in the team's last six meetings in West Lafayette (1997, '99, '03, and '07).
5 – Consecutive seasons in which the Boilermakers have racked up at least 425 yards of total offense vs. the Irish defense (PU totaled 512, 514, 490, 426, and 462 yards against ND from 2004-2008).
6 – Current Notre Dame players that have scored a touchdown vs. Purdue in their Irish careers (Golden Tate 2; Duval Kamara, Armando Allen, Kyle Rudolph, George West, and Robert Blanton with 1 apiece).
7 – Touchdowns scored by the Irish offense in the team's 10 trips inside the opponents' red zone (20-yard line) this season. The Irish have added two field goals (and one miss) to round out their early-season red zone appearances.
8 – Gains from scrimmage in excess of 20 yards produced by Purdue sophomore running back Ralph Bolden. Bolden has totaled separate rushes of 78, 29, 22, and 21 yards this season while catching passes yielding 24, 22, 34, and 20 yards in three contests.
9 – Touchdown passes by Irish quarterback Jimmy Clausen through three games this season, tying him with Brady Quinn (2005) for the highest TD total through three contests in team history.
10 – Previous matchups between the teams over the last 12 seasons (the Joe Tiller era at Purdue) in which at least one of the two squads was nationally ranked. Saturday evening's game, however, will mark the third consecutive season in which neither the Boilers nor the Irish enter the contest ranked in either the AP or Coach's Poll.
11 – Consecutive games won by the Irish over the Boilermakers from 1986 through 1996. The number represents the series' longest winning streak and the 11 seasons mark the tenure of ex-Notre Dame head coach Lou Holtz, who never lost to Purdue during his 11 years at the University. Purdue's most successful span of games vs. the Notre Dame program occurred from 1954-1969 as the Boilers took 11 of 16 games from the Irish.
12 – Consecutive matchups in the series in which the team with the most (or equal) number of turnovers lost the contest. Both the 1999 and 1997 matchups featured an equal number of turnovers by the teams (both Purdue victories). The last time the winner of the PU/ND contest committed more turnovers than the loser was 1996 when the far superior Irish crushed the Boilers, 35-0 in South Bend. The Irish committed three turnovers that rainy afternoon to Purdue's one miscue, but a 99-yard kick-return touchdown by Allen Rossum to open the contest and a balanced attack (215 rushing/244 passing yards) paved the way to ND's 11th consecutive series victory.
1 – ND/PU matchups decided by three points or fewer this decade. In 2000, Nicholas Setta booted a 38-yard field goal as time expired to give the Irish a 23-21 victory over the Boilers in South Bend. Backup quarterback Gary Godsey (in his first career start) completed more passes (one) in the contest than did current NFL Pro Bowl quarterback Drew Brees. Brees was held to 13-of-22 passing for 221 yards by the Irish defense; was sacked twice, and threw an interception that was returned 60 yards for a touchdown by Irish cornerback Shane Walton.
Bonus Stat: 20 – Total touchdowns scored by the Irish vs. Purdue in the previous four matchups of the Charlie Weis era. The Irish have tallied 11 touchdowns through the air, 8 on the ground (including both an end around and fake field goal for scores), and one interception return.
On the HorizonIrish players that could reasonably accomplish statistical milestones Saturday vs. the Boilermakers:
Golden Tate: Needs 100 yards receiving to move into a tie with Derrick Mayes (1992-95) and Jeff Samardzija (2003-06) for second place with nine career games of 100 or more receiving yards. Tom Gatewood (1969-71) holds the school's record with 13 games of 100-plus yards.
With 14 career receiving touchdowns, Tate is likewise closing in on two program legends: Ken MacAfee (1974-77) and Jim Seymour (1966-68) snared 15 and 16 TD passes, respectively. Seymour is sixth on the team's all-time touchdown receptions list.
Jimmy Clausen: Needs one touchdown pass to move ahead of Rick Mirer (1989-92) and into second place on the program's career touchdown passes chart. Irish fans will have to be patient for a future move by Clausen up the chart, as Brady Quinn (2003-06) holds the school record with 95 touchdown passes in 47 career starts (49 games).
Additionally, Clausen has completed 468 passes (in 25 starts/26 games) and needs six more to pass Steve Beuerlein (1983-86) for third place on the school's career pass completions list.
Raeshon McNeil: Needs one pass break-up to Mike Richardson (2002-2006) for 10th on the all-time list, or two break-ups to tie Dave Duerson (1979-1982) for ninth place. (McNeil has been credited with 14 break-ups in his Irish career). McNeil has yet to record a pass break-up in three contests this season.