No one said it was easy being the villain. Those damn do-gooders and their scrappy band of misfits have given Notre Dame fits the last two weeks. It’s fine. None of the things I’ve said have proven false. FSU has shown to be garbage and Toledo was given life by Notre Dame’s mistakes. It’s not my fault that... Dammit, now I’m monologuing, classic villain mistake! Let’s just into the trashing of the Purdue Boilermakers.
Remember that time he beat Ohio State? Great times, right? It has been a double black diamond slope ever since. In the games following the 49-20 win over Ohio State in 2018, Purdue has gone 10-16. The narrative on ol’ Jeff is that he’s a great offensive mind — he put 49 points on the board against Ohio State for gosh sake!
The problem is, not unlike Pat Narduzzi who is hailed as this defensive guru, the facts get in the way of the narrative. In the 26 games since that 49 point performance, they have averaged a scant 26 points per game. They have twice been held to negative rushing totals, -2yds on 17 carries against mighty Nebraska in 2020 and a -19 on 28 performance against PSU in 2019 (Go ahead and toss in a 17 carry 2 yard clunker against Northwestern last year while you’re at it). We’re going to hear that he’s this savant offensive mind on Saturday. Don’t buy it — they’re selling you a lemon.
Off the Rails
Gone are the days of such luminary QBs such as Bob Griese, Drew Brees and Jim Everett...hell gone are the days of Kyle Orton or even Curtis Painter. Can you name the last five starting QBs for Purdue with a straight face?
That’s not even been the biggest problem as of late though. Their real issue is that like Barbaro at the Preakness Stakes, they can’t run anymore. Since the magical 2018 season (let’s be real, they went 6-7) Purdue hasn’t averaged more than 83.25 rushing yards per game. Obviously, the Irish have had some early season struggles to this point running the ball, but they are still averaging 98.5 yards per game. The Boilermakers are flat out inept when it comes rushing the football. To compound matters, their starting running back Zander Horvath broke his leg against Connecticut last week, so they are coming into this game having to rely on backups to get the job done.
Purdue isn’t a rival, and they shouldn’t be treated as such. I’m not a fan of Notre Dame doing their “Green Out” gimmick on Saturday — don’t give the Boilermakers the validation. Since Lou Holtz arrived 1986 they’ve played 29 times and Purdue has won a scant 5 of those games. I know we consider Michigan and Ohio State a rivalry despite a similar amount of futility from one of the teams, but come on now. Does this game really move the needle for anyone outside West Lafayette?
Sure there are a lot of reasons to hate them; the big stupid drum, the obnoxious train whistle they play at their stadium, their mascot who looks like he is required by the state to remain 100 yards away from schools and playgrounds — but that doesn’t make a rivalry does it?
Villain De Jour
The real villain here is Purdue Pete. I’ve seen him driving around the Chucky Cheese parking lot. Don’t think I didn’t notice him looking through my garbage can on Wednesday morning. Like tracking down Buffalo Bill in the 1991 thriller, Silence of the Lambs, sometimes you need to turn to a villain to help catch a villain.
Notre Dame to this point in the season has been their own worst enemy. They’ve allowed too many big plays and have gotten in their own way. Time to plan two steps ahead like Hannibal Lecter. Play it smart and not make any mistakes. So go ahead and grab yourself some fava beans and a nice bottle of Chianti, because this Saturday is when the Irish finally put it all together and feast on an opponent.