The sixth annual installment of the Shamrock Series will get underway tomorrow night when the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame (2-0, 11th ranked) take on the Purdue Boilermakers (1-1) from Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. While this game is at a “neutral” field, this is technically a home game for the Irish and the crowd will heavily be in their favor. However, no matter where the game is being played, Notre Dame would be substantial favorites over a struggling Purdue program.
Offensively, Notre Dame should be able to continue the success that they have had during the first two games of the year. Purdue has allowed 72 combined points versus Western Michigan and Central Michigan, so it would be safe to assume that the Irish will score a lot as well. If Purdue has any chance of making this a close game, it will be because Notre Dame lets them hang around too long. To avoid that and any possible hangover after the Michigan win, I expect Brian Kelly to be very aggressive early on. I would like to see the Irish come out throwing the football early and often while taking shots deep down the field. Notre Dame has a plethora of wide receivers to choose from, and I’m sure that Kelly will try to involve as many as he can against a seemingly weaker opponent. Once the Irish build up a nice lead, then it will be time for the running attack to put the game away. It would not surprise me to see Greg Bryant, Tarean Folston, and Cam McDaniel all reaching double digits in carries as Notre Dame should have the game in hand early in the second half.
It is hard to imagine that Notre Dame can play any better defensively than they did last week, but Purdue’s offense is certainly not as explosive as Michigan’s. In fact, it is still unclear who will be under center for the Boilermakers. Sophomore’s Danny Etling and Austin Appleby will both likely see playing time tomorrow night, but Etling is expected to get the bulk of the snaps. Etling has completed just 51.4 percent of his passes for 307 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions after two weeks, but he did rush for 53 yards on ten carries last week. Despite who is at quarterback, the Irish defense should be just fine if they play like they have the first two weeks. With several freshmen seeing more action last week, this defense should only get better as the season progress. This week will be a perfect opportunity for the younger players to gain more playing time and valuable experience before the Irish start to play better opponents.
This one might be close for a quarter at most, but the Irish should roll easily.
Prediction: Notre Dame 45, Purdue 13