Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 18, 2021

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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32 SEPT. 18, 2021 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED GAME PREVIEW: PURDUE BY TYLER HORKA H ow long has it been since Notre Dame lost to Purdue? Put it this way: the last time it happened, the very first iPhone was re- leased exactly three months prior — Sept. 29, 2007. A lot has changed since then. For starters, Notre Dame has beaten Purdue seven straight times. The Irish have changed head coaches just once, from Charlie Weis to Brian Kelly. The Boilermakers have made three changes, from Joe Tiller to Danny Hope to Darrell Hazell to Jeff Brohm. Coaching changes tend to mean lack of stability. A struggling program. In simple terms, more losses than wins. That has surely been the case in the last 14 seasons. Since Purdue beat Notre Dame 33- 19 in West Lafayette, the Boilermakers have gone 58-100 through the first week of the 2021 season while the Irish have gone 115-51. And yet, Brohm is confident in this Purdue team — the fifth of his tenure. "I really feel like that we're close," Brohm said. "We have been in a lot of close games without question. We got to learn how to compete and finish and do a lot of small things a little bit better. "But that's part of growing and part of learning and part of coaching is im- proving and figuring out how to find a way to win." The first game of this season was a step in the right direction, for sure. Brohm and the Boilermakers beat Or- egon State 30-21. The Beavers haven't exactly equated to a quality win over the last decade, though. They've had their fair share of coaching changes — three since 2014 — and more than their fair share of losses. Seven straight losing seasons, in fact. So, what kind of threat does Pur- due present to a Notre Dame team that hasn't lost at home in 25 tries? On the surface, not much of one. But maybe Brohm is right. Maybe Purdue is on the cusp of stringing together wins in a way it hasn't since a pair of 6-6 seasons in Brohm's first two years on the job. Of course, 6-6 isn't the signature sign of glowing success. But for a program that recorded a losing record in eight of the previous nine seasons before Brohm arrived from Western Kentucky in 2017, a 7-6 mark with a win over Arizona in the Foster Farms Bowl wasn't so bad. Purdue started 2-0 in last year's CO- VID-shortened season before losing its final four games of the year. The kicker? Three of the four defeats came by a touchdown. The Boilermakers closed the season with a 37-27 loss to Nebraska. Purdue has been in games. It just hasn't gotten over the hump. "We've got to understand that win or lose, you've got to be tough enough to move on to the next game regard- less of how good you played, which you can sometimes let your foot off the gas, or how bad you possibly have played, where you sometimes start to second- guess and doubt and listen to a few nay- sayers," Brohm said. POWERFUL PASSING Purdue was average or just below it in every sense of the word last season. The Boilermakers had the country's No. 56 total defense and No. 70 total offense. They allowed a shade less than 400 yards per game and gained a touch more than 390. They allowed a hair less than 30 points per game and scored just more than 27. Obviously, if those sets of numbers reversed then it could be the difference between 2-4 and 4-2. T h e co nve rsa t i o n a b o u t P u rd u e wouldn't be what does Brohm have Facts & Figures PURDUE AT NOTRE DAME Date: Sept. 18, 2021 Site: Notre Dame Stadium Kickoff: 2:30 p.m. ET Broadcast: NBC and Peacock Radio: This game can be heard on Notre Dame IMG affiliates. Series Facts: This is the 87th time Purdue and Notre Dame have played. The Fighting Irish beat the Boilermakers 30-14 in the last meeting on Sept. 13, 2014. Previously, the two schools met annually between 1946 and 2014, and the in-state series dates back to 1896. Head coaches: Purdue — Jeff Brohm (21-25, fifth season); Notre Dame — Brian Kelly (104-39, 12th season). Noting Purdue: The Boilermakers have just one winning season since 2012. It came in Brohm's first year at the helm of the program in 2017. Purdue is searching for its first bowl victory since the same season, too. … The Boilermakers are led by a junior quarterback in Jack Plummer, who had a few starts under his belt coming into the season but had never been entrusted to be a starter from the beginning of a season. Plummer has averaged 259.5 passing yards per game in 11 contests throughout his career. … Defensively, Purdue has not been able to stop the pass in recent seasons. The Boilermakers ranked above just two teams in the FBS in passing yards allowed three seasons ago. … Brohm has said he feels Purdue is close to becoming a perennial bowl game participant, but the Boilermakers have much to prove on their way to getting there. Purdue has only appeared in four bowl games since 2008. Before then, the program went to 10 bowl games in 11 years under former head coach Joe Tiller. WHAT'S BOILING? After four losses by 10 or fewer points in 2020, Jeff Brohm says the Boilermakers are close to turning the corner in 2021 Brohm is in his fifth season coaching the Boilermakers, but this will be his first meeting with the Fighting Irish. PHOTO COURTESY @KROCKPHOTO

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