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No. 12 Notre Dame Fighting Irish face big test against Purdue Boilermakers

Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Jack Coan (17) looks to pass. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish lead the Florida State Seminoles 17-14 at the half Sunday, Sept. 5, 2021.

Fsu V Notre Dame835
Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Jack Coan (17) looks to pass. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish lead the Florida State Seminoles 17-14 at the half Sunday, Sept. 5, 2021. Fsu V Notre Dame835

After a pair of tense contests, No. 12 Notre Dame will try to find its footing against visiting Purdue on Saturday at South Bend, Ind.

Notre Dame (2-0) is coming off a 32-29 win at home against Toledo. The Fighting Irish trailed late in the fourth quarter but escaped with the victory after Jack Coan fired an 18-yard touchdown pass to Michael Mayer with 1:09 remaining.

It was the second straight nail-biter for Notre Dame, which needed overtime to knock off Florida State in its season opener.

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly takes responsibility for struggles

NCAA Football: Toledo at Notre Dame
Sep 11, 2021; South Bend, Indiana, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish Head coach Brian Kelly enters Notre Dame Stadium before the game against the Toledo Rockets. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

“I obviously didn’t do a very good job preparing them,” Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said after the narrow victory over Toledo. “I thought (our team) played with more intensity in the second half, but sometimes you don’t want the circumstances to have to dictate that they have to play with more intensity.”

Notre Dame’s next test will come against Purdue (2-0), which is coming off a 49-0 blowout win over Connecticut last week. The Boilermakers won their season opener 30-21 against Oregon State.

In the latest win, Purdue quarterback Jack Plummer completed 16 of 20 passes for 245 yards and four touchdowns. He helped the Boilermakers build a 35-0 halftime lead.

Purdue head coach Jeff Brohm expects a tough challenge as his team looks to improve to 3-0.

Purdue looking for upset against Notre Dame

NCAA Football: Purdue at Connecticut
Sep 11, 2021; East Hartford, Connecticut, USA; Purdue Boilermakers quarterback Jack Plummer (13) throws a pass under pressure from Connecticut Huskies defensive lineman Travis Jones (57) in the first half at Rentschler Field at Pratt & Whitney Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

“Notre Dame is a veteran football team,” Brohm said. “They’ve proven they can win at a high level. They play one of the toughest schedules in the country every year against great competition. …

“They’ve had to work for the last two wins, which actually from their standpoint really is a good thing because it gives them a chance to see the few things they need to work on to get better, but they found a way to win. That’s what winning football teams do.”

Coan leads Notre Dame’s attack on offense. He has thrown for six touchdowns and two interceptions while averaging 302.5 passing yards per game.

Mayer has been Coan’s top target, hauling in 16 passes for 201 yards and three touchdowns. Kyren Williams leads the Fighting Irish ground game with 120 rushing yards and one score.

For Purdue, Plummer has six touchdown passes and zero interceptions. David Bell and Payne Durham each have three receiving TDs.

Purdue running back Zander Horvath will be sidelined for 4-8 weeks because of a broken fibula. His absence could lead to a greater workload for fellow running backs King Doerue and Dylan Downing.

This will be the first game between Notre Dame and Purdue since 2014. The in-state rivals have met 84 times, with Notre Dame holding a 56-26-2 edge in the all-time series.

Purdue will go for its first win over the Fighting Irish since 2007.

“I know our fans – I’ve heard it for the last six months – that they’re looking forward to this game and getting a chance to go up there and watch Purdue play at Notre Dame,” Brohm said. “I’m happy that we get that opportunity. Hopefully, we can take advantage of it.”

–Field Level Media