'1% Better': Despite Loss, Purdue Defense Felt it Took a Step Forward Against No. 12 Notre Dame

The Purdue defense jumped on Notre Dame early, forcing two three-and-outs and finishing the game with four sacks in a 27-13 loss Saturday in South Bend.
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Just get better. It's a simple message to stick to, and one that Purdue's defense firmly believes in. The team's 27-13 loss on the road against No. 12 Notre Dame is in the rearview mirror now, but it was a game that it can reflect on.

"One thing we always harp on is just get 1% better every day," Purdue senior linebacker Jaylan Alexander said. "(Saturday) was another step."

The Boilermakers opened the game with pure aggression. Alexander flew into the Fighting Irish backfield on the first play from scrimmage, picking up a sack of nine yards. It was the first quarterback takedown of his career.

Purdue forced a three-and-out on two of Notre Dame's first three drives, and the Irish managed just six total yards in that span. But the Boilermakers' offense didn't capitalize on its opportunities, putting just three points on the board for the defense's efforts.

Leading by a field goal just wasn't enough to fend off Notre Dame, backed by a raucous home crowd. The Fighting Irish scored on its next three possessions before taking a 13-3 halftime lead.

In the second half, Purdue's offense put together two scoring drives, but Notre Dame scored twice on plays that went for more than 50 yards.

The Boilermakers managed to record four sacks in the loss despite coming into the game with one on the season, but the Fighting Irish simply made big plays in the most important moments.

Despite the deficit on the scoreboard, Purdue's defense played with intensity until the final minutes ticked away.

"I felt like that was our job, everybody get to the ball no matter what the score is. Play hard the whole game," junior safety Cam Allen said. "If we're up, we're down, we're going to play hard no matter what. And I think we did that."

Facing a quality ranked opponent to close out its nonconference schedule was a stepping stone in a long 2021 season for Purdue. The rest of the way, Big Ten foes will be waiting, so it won't get much easier.

"Going into this next opponent, Illinois, we're going into the (Big Ten West)," Alexander said. "We already know what we gotta do, we gotta handle business. I feel like (Saturday), we did take another step in our preparation and the way we came out. So, we actually have to take this momentum into the next game." 

  • PURDUE-NOTRE DAME GAME STORY: Purdue outgained Notre Dame in Saturday's road loss in South Bend, but the Fighting Irish capitalized on three long touchdowns to put the Boilermakers away. CLICK HERE 
  • PURDUE-NOTRE DAME LIVE BLOG: The Purdue Boilermakers hit the road for the second straight week Saturday against the No. 12 Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Indiana. CLICK HERE 
  • PURDUE FOOTBALL 2021 SCHEDULE: Purdue's 2021 college football schedule includes nine Big Ten games and three nonconference matchups. The team enters conference play after starting the season 2-1. CLICK HERE 

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