Fresh off a 50-10 dismantling of Navy in Dublin, Ireland, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish look to keep their goal of a Top 10 finish and BCS bowl alive during their home opener against Purdue.
The Irish looked good in all phases of the game in Ireland. The rushing game, led by George Atkinson III and Theo Riddick, accounted for 293 yards on the ground and ate up the Navy defense.
Quarterback Everett Golson also looked good in his debut, passing for 12-of-18 and 144 yards and an interception in limited action. Golson will have to continue that kind of efficiency if he and the Irish want to be successful this season.
But Navy doesn't creep up on the schedule again, and Notre Dame won't catch any breaks like that in its schedule again.
Taking on Purdue in the second week of the season won't be the same as prepping for Navy's triple option attack. Purdue gets back QB Caleb TerBush, fresh off of his Week 1 suspension, and looks to use senior Robert Marve at the position too, if the situation allows for it.
Preparing for two quarterbacks isn't an easy task for the defense. The approach on offense will likely be different, too. Game-planning for Kawann Short and the rest of the Purdue front seven will be different than Navy's personnel. The Irish proved running the ball keyed their success, and to do that consistently the offensive line will have to move people off the line.
Although the Irish won 38-10 last season, this Purdue game isn't a sure thing. How Golson responds in front of his home crowd is still a question mark, but I think the Irish get the job done and enter their first real test against Michigan State 2-0.
That's where it will start for the Irish, but they can't even consider being a BCS-quality team if they don't take care of teams like Purdue. Their schedule gives no breaks, but it's not a stretch to see them being 4-0 after Michigan leaves South Bend, especially considering the way the Wolverines looked against the run opening night against Alabama.
Other teams on the schedule include road games at USC and Oklahoma, and a neutral site game with Miami. Still, a 10-2 record could put the Irish on the radar for a BCS game in January, especially considering they'll have three Top-10 matchups on their resume.
Brian Kelly has a tough road ahead of him if he wants to bring Notre Dame back to elite status. But it starts with Purdue, where the Irish can make a statement heading into their non-stop action of tough games ahead.
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