Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 18, 2021

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

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36 SEPT. 18, 2021 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED GAME PREVIEW: PURDUE Todd D. Burlage: Notre Dame 51, Purdue 27 The Boilermakers were picked in the preseason to finish sixth in the seven-team Big Ten West Division, and with only five Purdue players listed by Athlon magazine on its extensive 2021 Big Ten preseason player rankings (44 offense, 44 defense, 16 specialists), the Boilermakers have the smallest representation of any school in the league. Notre Dame's talent disparity and its dominance at home — especially against unranked opponents — is too much for Purdue to overcome. Steve Downey: Notre Dame 34, Purdue 17 Following a highly successful three-year run at Western Kentucky, head coach Jeff Brohm is still trying to find his footing at Purdue in Year 5. Fol- lowing the season-opening win versus Oregon State, he was just 20-25 with the high-water mark being a 7-6 finish in his first season. The Boilermakers' offense is still too one-dimensional — they have fin- ished last in the Big Ten in rushing each of the last two years — and the pass defense has struggled too much — finishing 94th or worst each of the last four years — to pull off an upset in South Bend. Patrick Engel: Notre Dame 38, Purdue 20 Purdue has All-American level talent defensive end (junior George Kar- laftis) and wide receiver (junior David Bell). Those two are among the best players Notre Dame will see this year at their respective positions. They're capable of a making couple splash plays against any opponent. But all told, Purdue doesn't have the defensive talent to match up with Notre Dame at the skill positions or the offensive firepower to top 30 points on an Irish defense that is better than what it offered in the opener at Florida State. Tyler Horka: Notre Dame 37, Purdue 21 Notre Dame's passing defense is still going to be figuring some things out, but the passing offense will prove to be the real deal by the third game of the season. Graduate student quarterback Jack Coan will have another performance that will have national analysts speculating about him in their way-too-early Heisman Trophy segments. Emphasis on way-too-early. The meat of the schedule is upon the Fighting Irish after the Purdue game. Mike Singer: Notre Dame 42, Purdue 17 Notre Dame shouldn't have much of an issue with Purdue. Last year was so whacky for the Big Ten, so I don't want to look at last year as too much of a barometer for this season, but the Boilermakers stunk down the stretch and they didn't look great at home against a bad Oregon State team to open the season. Give me the Irish to win comfortably. BY TODD D. BURLAGE PURDUE RUNNING GAME VS. NOTRE DAME RUN DEFENSE As will be the case early this season, using 2020 statistics to forecast 2021 results is difficult be- cause of the disjointed and shortened schedules many teams played last season through the CO- VID-19 pandemic. Purdue had its 2020 schedule cut in half and finished 2-4, with four straight losses to end its season. Fifth-year head coach Jeff Brohm remains in des- perate need of improvement in his running game after finishing last in the Big Ten in rushing yards each of the last two seasons. Fifth-year senior tailback Zander Horvath has provided the Boilers some durability, production and promise early on. Horvath recorded 21 of Pur- due's 33 rushing tries against Oregon State for 81 yards and one touchdown in the season-opening 30-21 win. In only six games last season, Horvath managed 442 yards and two touchdowns on 89 carries. But beyond Horvath, few reliable options remain. Junior King Doerue followed up his solid fresh- man season in 2019 (451 yards, five scores) with only 17 carries for 64 yards in 2020. Up front, the left tackle position remains uncer- tain for Purdue after losing starter Grant Hermanns to the NFL Draft, while the interior is experienced and deep. Highlighted by returning starters in graduate Sam Garvin at center, sophomore Gus Hartwig at guard, and graduate Greg Long at right tackle, the Boilermakers feature at least six lineman with real- game experience, though few have played tackle. As a team Purdue only rushed 150 times in six games last season. For Notre Dame, after allowing just 113.0 rushing yards per game last season to finish 16th nationally in rush defense, the Irish were hyped in the pre- season as one of the nation's best in this category. But questions loomed after the season opener when Florida State gashed Notre Dame for 264 rushing yards, 5.5 yards per carry and three touch- downs. Advantage: Notre Dame PURDUE PASSING GAME VS. NOTRE DAME PASS DEFENSE Harkening the old days of "basketball on grass" under late Boilermaker head coach Joe Tiller, Pur- due's success on offense this season will go as its passing game goes. With an aerial reliance under Brohm, and plenty of talent to make it work, Purdue excels in this category. Former Boilermakers wideout Rondale Moore is gone after being selected by the Arizona Cardinals Fifth-year senior tailback Zander Horvath leads the way for a Purdue ground game that has struggled the past two years. He began the 2021 campaign by carrying the ball 21 times for 81 yards and a touchdown versus Oregon State. PHOTO COURTESY PURDUE ATHLETICS On PaPer Staff Predictions

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