Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Irish Set to Battle Boilermakers
Notre Dame is an eyelash from being 1-2 on the season after barely getting by Michigan State this past Saturday in South Bend. If you are an optimist you will say they are an eyelash from being 3-0 after being just one more first down away from victory in Ann Arbor. One thing I fully assume for this Saturday is that Irish fans won't have to sit through the duration of the second half chewing on their finger nails due to nerves caused by the game.
Losing Michael Floyd does no favors for the Irish, with his quick start to 2009 the national media has been all-over calling him a future first round pick in the NFL draft, something I have been saying since signing day well over a year ago. The hurt that this injury puts on this offense will not show its head this weekend however as the Irish will get off the bus running the football against Purdue and continue to do so until the Boilermakers adjust their defense.
Plain and simple, the Boilermakers can't stop the run. Notre Dame has some issues themselves but nowhere near as bad as Purdue has an issue with stopping the run in 2009. So far this year we have seen Akron, Oregon, and Northern Illinois average 181 yards per game on the ground against the Boilermakers this season, expect that trend to continue.
Armando Allen had a coming out party of sorts a year ago when Purdue traveled to South Bend, he put 134 yards on the ground while averaging 5.0 ypc. To that date, it was his best performance in a Notre Dame uniform. Expect another big game from the running backs this weekend as well.
Jimmy Clausen has moved his way up the ESPN Heisman rankings, checking in at fourth this week. He loses his favorite target in Michael Floyd but don't expect this to slow the passing game when the Irish deem it necessary to throw. The oh-so-present run threat will keep Purdue cheating up until they are burned on a deep ball, perhaps even afterwards.
Jason Werner leads the Purdue defense, expect the Irish to throw and run away from where he lines up on defense, much like they threw away from and ran away from Greg Jones of Michigan State a week ago. So far on the year Werner has 6 tackles for loss, a sack, and an interception. He happens to be a playmaker but is the exception to the rule for Purdue on defense.
The Boilermakers have given up an average of 32.3 ppg this year, I don't see the Irish having a major hurdle to jump over to reach that. This will easily be the best offense Purdue has seen to date, don't think Notre Dame won't make that a known fact by the end of the evening.
To Purdue's credit they have put up 36.3 ppg this year in three contests. Ralph Bolden leads the Boilermaker charge as he has rushed for 421 yards on the season while reaching the endzone 4 times. He currently holds a 6.8 average yards per carry, a number Notre Dame looks to bring down. The passing game is what Purdue offenses have become famous for but stop the run on Saturday and it turns into a very long evening for the Boilermakers. A big game from both Ethan Johnson and Ian Williams as well as a little help from the linebackers will be needed.
Joey Elliott will be doing the quarterback duties for Purdue on Saturday night, he has a strong arm but has had trouble in decision making this season, already throwing five interceptions three games in. His favorite targets are Keith Smith and Aaron Valentin who have combined for 33 receptions and have each scored a touchdown in 2009.
Purdue will be playing with a sense of urgency after falling to Northern Illinois in West Lafayette a week ago. Expect the Boilermakers to come out swinging, perhaps a trick play or two on their first series even.
At the end of the night it will however be another win for Notre Dame in a game that shows how far off track the two programs currently are with each other.
Nick (2-1): Notre Dame 38 Purdue 20
Mark (2-1): Notre Dame 42 Purdue 24
In the meantime, enjoy what happened when Notre Dame traveled to Purdue four years ago. Just happened to stumble upon this earlier, thought everyone would enjoy looking back on a very enjoyable night.