Friday, September 30, 2005

Purdue Prediction

After easily disposing of the Tyrone Willingham-led-Washington Huskies, the Irish face a difficult test against the Purdue Boilermakers in West Lafayette. While on paper, Notre Dame should win this game, I see the Irish losing this game. I hope I'm horribly wrong about this and I'm eating a nice pile of crow on Sunday. Let's take a look at the matchups.

ND Passing vs. Purdue Pass Defense
Notre Dame has the 17th ranked passing offense in the country and what makes the Irish pass offense so dangerous is that Brady has a number of dangerous options to throw to: Samardzija, Fasano, Shelton, Stovall and Walker. I think in order to slow down the Irish passing game you need a great pass rush. Purdue does not have a great pass rush, and I would not be surprised if Brady Quinn throws the ball fifty times on Saturday.
Advantage: Notre Dame

ND Rushing vs. Purdue Rushing Defense
Part of the reason Brady Quinn could throw fifty times is that the Irish will struggle to run the football. Yes, Minnesota did run for over 300 yards last week, but Laurence Maroney is probably the 2nd or 3rd best running back in the country. While Darius Walker is a fine running back, he is no Laurence Maroney. Notre Dame notoriously struggles to run the football against Purdue (even Julius Jones had a miserable game against them a few years ago), and I expect more of the same.
Advantage: Purdue

Purdue Passing vs. Notre Dame Pass Defense
Last week, Notre Dame gave up 400 yard passing to a bad football team, but was able to make up for the pass defensive lapses by forcing turnovers in the red zone. Purdue has more talented receivers than Washington and an experienced quarterback in Brandon Kirsh, who will not make some of the same silly mistakes that Isaiah Stanback made last week. Defensive Coordinator Rick Minter will probably have a few tricks up his sleeve to mask the poor pass defense, which is currently ranked 105th in the country, so Kirsh may not have a Drew Stanton-esque game, but he should still throw for about 300 yards.
Advantage: Purdue

Purdue Rushing vs. Notre Dame Rushing Defense
The strength of the Notre Dame defense is in the linebacker core, so it is no coincidence that Notre Dame has one of the top rush stopping defenses in the country (32nd to be exact). Purdue has become a more balance team offensively this season, as they have two solid running backs in Jerod Void and Kory Sheets and they have a mobile quarterback in Brandon Kirsh. While Purdue does have a good running game, Notre Dame's rushing defense is just too good for Purdue to be able to run the football effectively. Tiller has been known to call a lot of running plays against Notre Dame, and if he decides to run the ball more than 30 times on Saturday, Notre Dame will win this game.
Advantage: Notre Dame

Special Teams
Notre Dame has a very solid punt return man in Tom Zbikowski. They have a solid punter and placekicker in D.J. Fitzpatrick. They also have solid kick coverages. Purdue has no return game to speak of. They also have a kicker who has kicked only one field goal this season and a punter who is averaging less than 38 yards a punt.
Advantage: Notre Dame

This is usually the biggest game for Purdue all season, and they almost always play over their heads in this game. It doesn't hurt either that Purdue is playing at home.
Advantage: Purdue

When you add up a poor pass defense, an opposing team that can pass the ball, is playing at home and playing out its mind, it equals a loss. Purdue 31 Notre Dame 28