The Notre Dame Fighting Irish welcome back the Purdue Boilermaker to Notre Dame Stadium for the first time since 2012. It’s kind of funny... the 2021 Irish don’t really have any type of resemblance of that 2021 squad, but after a couple of close wins — the analogies and comparisons to that season have been put out there.
Growing up, Purdue was a game that was just always on the schedule. Notre Dame has only lost to Purdue 9 times in my lifetime (1978) and just 4 times since 1986. The last two Boiler wins happened during two of the most miserable seasons in recent memory, 2007 and 2004.
The teams play for the Shillelagh Trophy — one of the least photographed rivalry trophies in all of college football. Because of Notre Dame’s “policy” (which I loathe) the Irish don’t bring the trophy onto the field. Any exchange that happens, does so in the locker room. The Boilers won back-to-back years in 2003 and 2004, and when the Irish won in 2005 — Purdue just does the backroom handover as well.
There are three big things on the line this week for Notre Dame other than just the season and that stick on a block of wood. Brian Kelly can tie Knute Rockne’s all-time win total with a victory, and the Irish have two winning streaks to defend — home games at 25 and wins over unranked opponents at 34.