Notre Dame will face Purdue for the first time since 2014 on Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium.
The No. 12 Irish are 2-0, but Brian Kelly’s team is far from perfect. Notre Dame needed overtime to win its season opener at Florida State, which then lost to FCS Jacksonville State the next week. The Irish needed a last-second touchdown pass from Jack Coan to escape defeat at home against the MAC’s Toledo.
Notre Dame used two QBs against Toledo with Coan and freshman Tyler Buchner. Coan, who played 62 snaps, will likely remain the starter, with Buchner (19 snaps vs. Toledo) used situationally thanks to his dual-threat ability.
Up front, the Irish have struggled with its rotation case on the offensive line thanks to injuries to tackles Blake Fisher and Michael Carmody. Earlier this week, Kelly said Jarrett Patterson will remain at center, while Zeke Cornell and Cain Madden could rotate more at guard. Freshman Rocco Spindler could also make his debut.
The Irish’s offensive line has struggled against the pass rush (10 sacks) and running the ball (194 rushing yards per game). The inability to open up holes for running backs Kyren Williams and Chris Tyree has caused the offense to fail to move the ball down the field effectively.
Notre Dame’s first two games under new defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman have been less than ideal from a big-play standpoint. The Irish have allowed five plays of more than 60 yards. Purdue QB Jack Plummer is highly-efficient, but only has wide receiver David Bell as a big-play threat. Bell has 14 catches for 255 yards and three touchdowns this season. Boilermakers coach Jeff Brohm’s offensive scheme, however, may lean more toward the pass with starting running back Zander Horvath out after breaking a leg last week against UConn.
An Irish win Saturday will tie Kelly with Knute Rockne for the all-time Notre Dame wins record at 105.
Purdue is also 2-0, but had a much easier path to get there. The Boilermakers defeated Oregon State 30-21 at home then crushed UConn’s interim staff 49-0. Purdue had 562 total yards, with 375 yards through the air. This is Purdue’s first 2-0 start to a season since 2007.
One element to the rivalry series that will be missed is Purdue’s World’s Largest Drum. Purdue’s band will play its first halftime performance without its massive bass drum for the first time since 1979. Why? It cannot fit through visitor’s tunnel onto the field. Notre Dame Stadium underwent renovations in 2017, which added a visitor’s tunnel. Purdue previously used the main tunnel without an issue.
Notre Dame leads the all-time series against Purdue, 56-26-2, including a five-game win streak. The two Indiana-based programs play for the Shillelagh Trophy.
2014: ND 30-14 (South Bend)
2013: ND 31-24 (West Lafayette)
2012: ND 20-17 (South Bend)
2011: ND 38-10 (West Lafayette)
2010: ND 23-12 (South Bend)
The Irish haven’t lost a game to Purdue since Oct. 2, 2004, when the Boilermakers defeated Notre Dame 41-16.
Favorites: ND -7.5
How to Watch
What: Purdue at No. 12 Notre Dame
When: 1:30 PM CT, Saturday
Where: Notre Dame Stadium; South Bend, Indiana
Live stream: Peacock