Purdue set to renew rivalry with Notre Dame

For the 85th time and the 66th occasion since 1949, Purdue and Notre Dame will meet on the football field. It's a rivalry that the Boilermakers don't want to end.

WEST LAFAYETTE -- Even as a newcomer to the Shillelagh Trophy rivalry, Darrell Hazell knows the tradition Purdue and Notre Dame share on the football field. The two schools first played in 1896 and have met for the past 66 years.

When Hazell met with the media, he even had historical facts about the rivalry prepared for his opening statement. There's no downplaying the importance of this game.

"It's really fun just to think how long this series has been going on uninterrupted," Hazell said. "I'm excited about this game on Saturday night. There is a lot of hype going on right now."

The 85th meeting between the two schools will be on the national stage once again—a nationally-televised, primetime showdown set under the lights of Ross-Ade Stadium.

But it also could be one of the last times the two teams play. The Big Ten is moving to a nine-game conference slate, eliminating a nonconference game. Meanwhile, Notre Dame must balance its Big Ten rivalries while filling its new obligations with ACC scheduling.

"Money controls the world," said Purdue senior quarterback Rob Henry. "That's the sad part about sports, about college football. It's sad, it's sad. But you have to be understanding of it. The TV [networks] and the conferences, they control us. There's not much you can do about it."

Added Hazell: "I would love for this game to continue every single season. I think it's good. Any time you have in-state rivalries, I think that makes for good spectating."

The Boilermakers' focus is set on Saturday. They came back from down 10 points in the fourth quarter, but allowed quarterback Tommy Rees to lead Notre Dame down the field for the game-winning field goal.

"I still have a bitter taste in my mouth," Purdue cornerback Frankie Williams said.

Both teams enter Saturday's game with one win and one loss, but Notre Dame is ranked No. 21 in both polls while Purdue is a heavy underdog.

The Boilermakers have played poorly in their first two games. A strong showing against the Fighting Irish would change the perception of the team.

"Most definitely, we're looking at this game as big deal," offensive tackle Justin Kitchens said. "We're going to give them our best effort out there."

This is far from just another game for the Boilermakers, who are looking to take down their rivals.

"It's a huge challenge," said Henry. "But at the same time, it's an opportunity, and that's why you come to play at a place like Purdue."

Chris Emma has covered recruiting, college athletics and professional baseball for FOX Sports Next since 2009. Emma covered the Nebraska Cornhuskers and Northwestern Wildcats, and currently covers the Purdue Boilermakers. A Chicago native, he resides in West Lafayette.
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