Sep 8, 2012; South Bend, IN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish running back Theo Riddick (6) jumps over Purdue Boilermakers cornerback Josh Johnson (28) in the third quarter at Notre Dame Stadium. Notre Dame won 20-17. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Week 3 Preview: No. 21 Notre Dame at Purdue

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are coming off a disappointing loss at Michigan. The Purdue Boilermakers are fresh off their first win of the season.

Trap game, right? Not so much.

This isn’t the same Irish (1-1) team that went to the BCS title game last season, nor is this the Boilermakers (1-1) roster that went to the Heart of Dallas Bowl. These two teams played each other to a standstill last year in South Bend, with the Irish narrowly avoiding defeat 20-17.

The game looked destined for overtime, until Tommy Rees entered the game on the final drive to lead the Irish to the game winning field goal.

While neither team is as good as they were in 2012, Notre Dame is head and shoulders above Purdue. It will take a monumental effort by the Boilermakers to win this game. They will have to function at a level previously unseen this season.

Keys for Purdue:

  • Do something on offense. Anything on offense would be good for the Boilermakers. Against Cincinnati, Purdue looked pathetic and versus Indiana State the Boilers weren’t much better. Its already looking like a long season for Purdue, but being able to move the ball against the Irish would give fans hope for the rest of the year. 
  • Defense. This seems like a no brainer, but if the defense has a bad day or allows the Irish to score early its a blowout before halftime. Purdue has to get them off the field on third down to give the offense a chance. An aggressive approach by the Boilermakers would be ideal. A turnover or two with a short field would go a long way towards pulling off the upset.
  • Akeem Hunt. Last week, he opened up the game with a 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. He’s a playmaker who needs to get the ball early and often. The problem is he’ll have to run against an outstanding Notre Dame defensive line full of future NFL players. If Hunt can get going, it will open the passing game for Rob Henry (maybe).

Keys for Notre Dame:

  • Defensive Line. Notre Dame was embarrassed by Devin Gardner last week. This team has enough pride that they are going to want to beat the hell out of someone, and that happens to be Purdue. The line managed just one sack of Gardner and three hits. You would imagine they’d like to beat up a QB like Henry. Purdue would like to establish a run game, so it will be up to the line to keep them in check. 
  • All the Points. Notre Dame left a lot of points on the field last week. They have to work on finishing drives in the end zone and not settle for long field goals. When the Irish get in the red zone, they have to get into the end zone. While moving the ball against the Boilermakers might be difficult at times, Notre Dame will find success in the air and on the ground. This should be a blowout in favor of the Irish.
  • Tommy Rees. Rees needs to get his confidence back and play mistake free football again. The defense didn’t play well enough to win against Michigan, but Rees had his own issues. He had two very bad interceptions last week and struggled with his accuracy. Rees would normally be advised to avoid throwing towards Ricardo Allen, but Allen has struggled a bit with a sore ankle. Purdue’s starting safety Landon Feichter will be out after suffering a broken leg last week. With Allen hobble and Feichter out, Rees should have deep routes open all day.

This game is heavily weighted towards Notre Dame. Purdue has struggled to score and move the ball. Notre Dame is looking to rebound from a bad loss. It just doesn’t bode well for the Boilermakers.

Notre Dame wins, 42-10.

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Tags: Notre Dame Fighting Irish Purdue Boilermakers

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