A stifling Notre Dame rush defence and a season’s first, turnover-free offensive display, was more than enough to see Brian Kelly’s Notre Dame Fighting Irish (3-2, 2-1 away) dismantle the Purude Boilermakers (2-2, 2-1 home) 38-10, in front of a sold out crowd at Ross-Ade stadium in West Lafayette, Ind. on Saturday night.
The Irish had entered the game with an appalling turnover ratio ranking of 120th in the nation, which was the nations worse. However, despite their errors, the Irish were very unlucky to have lost its first two games against USF and Michigan by a total of only SEVEN points.
Sophomore sensation Irish QB Tommy Rees got off to a fantastic start when he connected with Michael Floyd from 38 yards out on Notre Dame’s second play from scrimmage. This was set up when Irish cornerback Gary Gray intercepted Purdue quarterback Caleb TerBush on the Boilermakers’ very first offensive play of the game.
Two missed field goals by David Ruffer sandwiched an 11 play 82 yard drive which ended in Jonas Gray taking the ball over the goal line from 2 yards out, to put the Irish up in front 14-0. The second QTR got off to a blistering start for Notre Dame, as Cierre Wood broke a run up the middle and left the Boilermaker’s defender’s in his wake, on his way to a 55 yard touchdown run. 21-3 at halftime, and the Irish were firmly in command.
Notre Dame opened the second half just as they had left off in the first, taking the ball 69 yards on 7 plays which ended with Tommy Rees’s second touchdown of the day, a 6 yard dart to tight end Tyler Eifert. Ruffers point after touchdown was good, giving the Irish a 28-3 lead.
Purdue continued to struggle against the rampant Irish defensive front seven and found themselves again punting the ball away. The dagger came with the Irish marching on an impressive 11 play 87 yard touchdown drive that saw Rees’s third and final touchdown strike of the day, this time to wideout TJ Jones, 35-3 Irish.
The game was closed out in the 4th QTR by Senior QB Dayne Crist, who lead the Irish to a 21 yard Ruffer field goal. Purdue also got a late consolation touchdown by way of a 13 yard toss from TerBush to Antavian Edison.
Rees ended the day going 24-40 254 yards and 3 TD’s. Irish star wideout and Heisman Trophy hopeful Michael Floyd ended the game with a total of 12 catches for 137 yards and a score. In total the Irish offence amassed 551 yards of total offence while holding possession of the football for over 33 minutes. I suppose the most important statistic for the most hardened Notre Dame fan was the fact that the offense did not turn the ball over for the first time in a month.
On defense, the standouts for the Irish were stud MLB Manti Te’o, 8 tackles (3 for loss) and one sack. Senior Robert Blanton also chipped in with 6 tackles (1 for loss). Another fine and promisiong display was turned in by freshman DE Aaron Lynch, many have pegged the youngster as the next coming of Ross Browner.
Final: Notre Dame Fighting Irish 38-10 Purdue Boilermakers.
The Boilermakers had entered the game ranked 11th in the country in rushing, averaging almost 260 yards on the ground. However, led by MLB Manti Te’o and freshman standout Aaron Lynch, the Purdue run game was held well in check to only 84 yards throughout the entire game.
Conversely, Notre Dame’s ground game was in fantastic form. Led by junior RB Cierre Wood, the Irish amassed a total of 287 yards on 40 attempts and a 7.2 yard per carry average, by far their seasons best outing. Wood finished with a career-high 191 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries, and senior Jonas Gray, finished with 94 yards and a score on 15 carries.
“Obviously [a win] on the road against a Big Ten [team], which was a key for us,” said Irish coach Brian Kelly, and added “And then getting Michael Floyd the ball early on really gave us a lot of confidence offensively. Defensively it has been very similar week after week. Just making it difficult for teams to run the football. Number one, we had to match their intensity. Like I said earlier in the week this was there game that they obviously circled on their calendar they had a couple weeks off leading up to it and I love the way matched their intensity in the fifth week of the season. … And then our running game, it set up everything that we did. When you can run the ball effectively you can be a good play caller. So it was a great win on the road.”
Purdue (2-2) struggled to move the ball most of the game, and had a first half display which was littered with penalty flags. At the end of the first quarter, Boilermaker fans must have been sickened to learn that they had amassed more penalty yards (48) than offensive yards (39). In the games entirety, the Boilermakers ended up committing 13 penalties for 118 total yards.
“We didn’t play well,” Purdue coach Danny Hope said. “We didn’t have any luck. We didn’t match up well. We’re a better team than that. We can still be a good football team. ... Tonight was not an indication of our talent. We’re going to get better.”
From the Locker Room:
Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly -
On getting a third straight win: “It would be great if we didn’t have Air Force next week. We have a tough schedule. We’ll enjoy it for 24 [hours] but we’re going to play a very good team next, and our focus starting Sunday will be on Air Force.We can’t take a deep breath and go, ‘OK, we’ve arrived,’ because that’s not the case. Air Force can beat you. We have a tough opponent coming up.”
On a game with no turnovers: “I don’t know that it’s a sign of relief as much as we have a way that we need to play the game in order to be successful. We’ve said that since day one — making good decisions.”
On playing Dayne Crist in the fourth quarter: “Dayne wanted to get in. I asked Dayne if what he wanted to, and Dayne wanted to go out and play and get in there. I have a lot of respect for Dayne. I’m not going to throw him in there in meaningless kind of situations, but he wanted to get in the game so it’s always going to be his first shot.”
Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees -
On playing Air Force next week: “They’re a good team. Any of the service academies, they always come in and play tough, and they’ve had some success here recently. We just have to come out ready to play and get prepared this week for another game.”
On the Irish running game: “It’s been working like that all year, but especially tonight having both backs running hard and receivers making blocks down field, it’s awesome to have big chunks come out of your running game.
On getting a school record 36 first downs: “We were just taking what the defense was giving us. I felt really good with the game plan we had in, and the coaches did a great job mixing things up. I just think it was a complete offensive effort to get those first downs.”
Notre Dame running back Cierre Wood -
On his career-high rushing performance: “It felt great. Like we always talk about it, it’s just the Notre Dame offense. I have to give a big shout out to my offensive line. It wouldn’t have been possible without them. They opened up the holes the way they blocked perfectly, and we just got the yardage.”
On his 55-yard touchdown run: “My line just opened up everything and it was just a free-for-all out there. We were moving the ball exceptionally well. I just read their blocks and turned on the speed booster after that.”
Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te`o -
On an improving team: “Everybody is getting more confident. Everybody is understanding why they have to be certain places. Everybody is in their fits and everybody know where they have to turn the ball to so everything is blending well together.”
On a physical game: “It was a night game, prime time, everyone feeling a little edgy, a little chippy. So, we just had to calm down and play our game.”
On getting a decisive win: “It definitely feels good especially to get the young guys in there to get them some reps. That’s what were looking to do every week. That’s the kind of start we want to have every week.”
Notre Dame’s next opponent see’s them travel home to South Bend this Saturday, to face a very much in-form Air Force Falcons team.
Here's a video of the Purdue game's highlights: