Notre Dame (2-0) looks to continue its long home winning streak this weekend when it takes on the Purdue Boilermakers. The Fighting Irish failed to put away its first two opponents and there are questions about just how good this Notre Dame team actually is.
So what will we see on Saturday when the Irish take on the Boilermakers? Are the Irish poised to get upset? Will we see another game come down to the final minute? Or is Notre Dame on the verge of breaking out? We'll find out soon enough, but until then the Irish Breakdown staff has made its predictions for this contest.
BRYAN DRISKELL, PUBLISHER
Prediction: Notre Dame 45, Purdue 20
There isn't really any statistical analysis that makes me predict a Notre Dame route. There really isn't anything that we've seen on film the first two weeks that should make me predict that Notre Dame is going to whip Purdue. If I was betting with my mind and looking at the stats and diving into the film and talking Xs and Os my prediction should be something more like 31-27 in favor of the home team.
But I'll be honest, all week I've just had a gut feeling that Notre Dame was on the verge of breaking out. There are several reasons why I am making this prediction. My gut tells me that Notre Dame's offensive linemen have been shamed after their embarrassing performances the first two games, and they are going to be full of fire against Purdue. If the line bounces back and plays well the result will be a monster game from quarterback Jack Coan.
On defense, my gut tells me that the mistakes that have plagued the defense in the first two games are going to get cleaned up, the defensive line is going to dominate the Purdue blockers and the Boilermakers aren't ready to face a team with Notre Dame's talent. Take away four plays and Notre Dame has mostly shut down its first two opponents, and when those mistakes get cleaned up against Purdue we see the Marcus Freeman defense we all thought we would see.
Add it all up and we finally see the Notre Dame team I thought we would see, and the Irish steamroll the Boilermakers.
VINCE DEDARIO, FOOTBALL ANALYST
Prediction: Notre Dame 35, Purdue 21
Well things have certainly not gone as I predicted the first two weeks of the season. I still think this could be a good Notre Dame team. There are clearly some things that need to be fixed and they need to be fixed in a hurry. The third string tackle, Tosh Baker, appears to be getting the start and a lot will be riding on his performance on Saturday. George Karloftis is the best defensive player Purdue has and he will be going against Baker most of the day. can he hold up? That is a big question. I think Tommy Rees will scheme his way into a bunch of points and the defense will continue to improve. I am not ready to precinct a blowout here but it would not surprise me.
GRANT DELVECCHIO, STAFF WRITER
Prediction: Notre Dame 35, Purdue 24
This game is going to be exciting and competitive. It's the first time Notre Dame and Purdue are playing a rivalry game since 2014 and both teams are undefeated. Plus, it will be the first time Notre Dame Stadium is truly back to full capacity after relatively low attendance numbers last week. I expect Purdue to keep this game close much of the way. The Boilermakers have two of the best playmakers in the Big Ten on both sides of the ball in wide receiver David Bell and defensive end George Karlaftis, who complement an already experienced unit both ways.
Since Notre Dame has struggled on the offensive line and gave up several long pass plays last week against Toledo, Karlaftis and Bell will likely have big days on Saturday. With that being said, I think Notre Dame plays its best game of the season defensively against the Boilermakers, particularly when it comes to stopping the run. While the Irish offensive line will continue to struggle in pass protection, don't be surprised if the Irish ground game takes a big step in the right direction. Purdue has the coaching, talent and experience to play spoiler on Saturday, but this is the game Notre Dame finally comes together.
SHAUN DAVIS, ESPN CHICAGO
Prediction: Notre Dame 31, Purdue 23
The Fighting Irish have been hard to gauge this season, but there has been a constant. The defense has controlled both of their games in the 3rd quarter, and I expect the same thing to happen this week. The return of Jordan Botelho off the edge should be enough to make Jack Plummer uncomfortable enough to make a few mistakes that lead to touchdowns for the home team. With that being said, Jeff Brohm’s squad will be ready to play and he will no doubt have a few tricks up his sleeve.
RYAN ROBERTS, RISENDRAFT
Prediction: Notre Dame 34, Purdue 21
It's hard to feel overly confident for the Irish right now. While Purdue has its deficiencies, players like wide receiver David Bell, defensive George Karlaftis, and tight end Payne Durham are going to make plays and keep Purdue in this football game. Expect a highly competitive contest with Notre Dame "pulling away" late. Michael Mayer continues his big play, presenting a mismatch against Boilermaker linebackers and safeties alike.
JP SCOTT, IB CONTRIBUTOR
Prediction: Notre Dame 37, Purdue 20
I like the Irish to rebound from a lackluster outing against Toledo. Look for Notre Dame to do what we thought they’d do last weekend: pound the ball and dominate the line of scrimmage on offense. Defensively, this is a good time to patch some holes as far as defending the run goes. I like Notre Dame to win comfortably.
ANDREW MCDONOUGH, IB CONTRIBUTOR
Prediction: Notre Dame 38, Purdue 17
I see this game playing out very similarly to the Boston College game in 2017. Coming off a loss to Georgia in Week 2, the Irish played an unimpressive first half before exploding in the second half, which set up one of the best stretches of football this team has played under Brian Kelly.
Even though the Irish pulled out the win against Toledo, struggling so much against a team from the MAC cannot sit well with the team. Though I expect the Irish to come out angry and inspired this weekend, I think they play a bit tight offensively against a rival with nothing to lose, until a big play from the defense gets the offense rolling.
Notre Dame will pull away in the second half from a Purdue team that does not have the total sum of talent to keep up with the Irish. For the first extended period this season, Notre Dame will play complementary football, as a swarming defense will limit the Purdue rushing attack, which will be without RB Zander Horvath, and force the Boilermakers to be one-dimensional, leading to multiple interceptions that give the Irish offense short fields and scoring opportunities. Notre Dame will ride that second half momentum into a difficult five game stretch beginning with Wisconsin on September 25th.
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