Purdue is going to beat Notre Dame this year. In football.
Sure, maybe I’m drinking the kool-aid a little too much, but who cares? This is something I feel good about and I want it on the record.
The game is a Saturday night game at Ross-Ade, played at 8 PM on September 14 on ABC (or ESPN). Point is, it’s a nationally televised game against the hated Irish. It will be Coach Hazell’s first night game at Purdue and his first home game versus a FBS opponent (the previous week is a nooner game against Indiana State, which let’s hope isn’t even competitive).
I fully expect (and damn near demand) Ross-Ade to be full and loud. I don’t care if they’re singing Shout – I just want the place full and bathed in Black and Gold. I want the excitement Coach Hazell and others have been talking about to be evident and I want the players to know it, too. But I’ll give my pregame speech closer to the game.
For now, why do I actually think Purdue will win?
Read on to learn more…
Many people are pointing at the schedule and talking about how difficult it is. And yes, there are bowl teams all over it, including the team that played in (if you can call it that) the national championship game last year and the usual gauntlet of Big Ten goodness. But think about the Purdue-Notre Dame series. Does it really matter usually how good or bad either team is? Notre Dame often finds a way, I will grant you, but even marginal Purdue teams coached by outright bad coaches have found a way to compete with them through the years. I know most fans and probably some players remember the 2009 game and how it slipped away – and how Ross-Ade was reportedly louder than many had ever heard it when Jaycen Taylor scored the go-ahead TD with under four minutes to go. At night, with the “blackout” theme in effect.
However, since I freely admit that what happened four years ago matters not much at all, how about we look at last season? A season in which Notre Dame went undefeated during the regular season and played for the national title. The game versus Purdue was a week after they dismantled Navy and it was in South Bend. Oh, and Purdue was coached by Danny Hope and company, who were intent on playing Caleb TerBush for a while…. and maybe Marve for a while… but, you know, there wasn’t going to be a plan to it or anything.
What happened? You may recall the Boilermakers were a bit stagnant in the first half, before Marve got the game tied going to halftime, 7-7. Then, despite all sentient beings assuming there was zero question that Marve would remain in the game in the second half (as the team visibly came to life with him leading), the Hope/Nord brain trust shocked and infuriated us all yet again by yanking Marve and putting in a cold, ineffective Caleb TerBush again. The Boilers fell behind by ten, 17-7, after three quarters, but then managed to claw their way back in the fourth – actually tying the game with just over two minutes remaining, 17-17. Then Tommy Rees stayed sober long enough to drive the Irish into FG range for a game-winning kick to – again – tear out the Boiler faithful’s collective hearts.
Why am I rehashing all of this? Because I want you to acknowledge that if that Purdue team, run the way it was run, was able to nearly pull off the upset of the soon-to-be on their way to an unbeaten season Notre Dame at South Bend, then tell my why there shouldn’t be some optimism for this season?
This year’s game is in our house. Notre Dame is no better. They’ve lost their starting QB and now need Rees sober for four quarters at a time. And is Purdue the same team? I would argue they are better simply by being better-coached, better-organized, better-prepared and by having a coherent game plan. Sure, I’m assuming a lot of the things in that last sentence, but I think it’s a safe assumption.
I shared these thoughts with a friend of mine who is actually a likeable guy despite being a Notre Dame loyalist (and yes, he went there, so I have no issue with him supporting them) and he chuckled. When I told him I meant it and I just wanted him to have heard it, he said, “Yeah, I’m not too worried about that one… I’ve got some varsity games I’m worried about.”
I’ll admit, that was actually a funny line. And I hope everyone on that side is thinking that way.
Purdue has lost its share of heartbreakers at home, especially to Notre Dame. But the scene of many of Purdue’s greatest springboard-effect victories have come with the Blue and Gold on the other side of the field as well. Darrell Hazell winning this game would mean a tremendous deal to alums, students and, of course, to the players. A win like that, on national television, helps with recruiting, perception and confidence. A belief that all things are indeed possible. Just keep buying in and things will happen. Much like in 1997 when Joe Tiller took over a 3-8 team thought to be a cellar-dweller and made them a 9-game winner, it all starts with a critical game against Notre Dame. And I’m fine with that.
The Boilermakers will beat Notre Dame this year. I have felt it for a while and just wanted you all to know.
Choo choo, muthas.