Published September 10, 2014
South Bend, IN – Indianapolis, IN (SportsNetwork.com) - The 11th-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish, fresh off an impressive shutout of the Michigan Wolverines, continue play against the Big Ten Conference, as they take on the Purdue Boilermakers as part of the Shamrock Series at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN.
Brian Kelly's Irish have their talented quarterback back on the field in 2014 and the results have been eye-popping. Notre Dame made light work of the Rice Owls in the season opener (48-17) and followed that up by blanking the Michigan Wolverines in the final edition of the current rivalry at Notre Dame Stadium last Saturday, 31-0. It was the first time Notre Dame had shut out Michigan in the series.
Darrell Hazell's Boilermakers have opened with a pair of Mid-American Conference opponents, topping Western Michigan in week one (43-34), but getting beat badly by Central Michigan in West Lafayette last Saturday.
These two teams play for the Shillelagh Trophy. This series dates all the way back to 1896. Notre Dame leads 57-26-2. This marks the 86th meeting between these two schools, the most times the Irish have faced any Big Ten school. The 26 Purdue victories rank as the third most against Notre Dame behind USC (35) and Michigan State (28).
The Boilermakers put on an offensive show in the opener against Western Michigan with 407 yards, but were more subdued against Central Michigan, managing just 326 yards of total offense.
A part-time player for most of his career in West Lafayette, senior tailback Raheem Mostert has taken over as the primary ball carrier in 2014. He is averaging 99.5 ppg early on and doing so on just under five yards per carry (4.9).
He has had to be sharp, as neither sophomore Danny Etling nor sophomore Austin Appleby have been particularly productive under center. Etling has completed just 51.4 percent of his throws, for 307 yards, with two TDs and two interceptions. Appleby has completed a worse 41.2 percent, for just 78 yards and one score.
Veteran tight end Justin Sinz is the top target downfield over the first two games, leading the team with 10 catches, for 96 yards and one TD.
The first two opponents on Purdue's schedule have both out-produced the Boilermakers in terms of total offensive yards. The team has really struggled against the run, yielding 187.0 yards per game. Purdue has recorded four sacks and two interceptions, though.
Senior safety Landon Feichter leads the team with 13 total tackles. Senior linebacker Sean Robinson is a close second with 11 stops. Junior nose guard Ryan Watson has five stops on the season but is responsible for two of the team's four sacks.
Moving the football and getting in the end zone hasn't been too hard for the Irish in the early stages, as they are averaging 39.5 ppg and doing so on 428.0 ypg.
Despite sitting out the 2013 season, Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson hasn't missed a beat. The gifted quarterback has played nearly flawless football thus far, completing 66.1 percent of his passes, for 521 yards and five TDs without an interception. He has added three more scores on the ground.
The Notre Dame backfield is stacked, highlighted by backs Greg Bryant (5.6 ypc, 1 TD), Tarean Folston (4.2 ypc) and Cam McDaniel (4.1 ypc, 1 TD).
Wideouts Will Fuller (13 receptions, 174 yards, 2 TDs) and Amir Carlisle (9 receptions, 115 yards, 2 TDs) are the top targets in the passing game.
With a shutout of the Wolverines last week, Notre Dame's defensive numbers are obviously impressive, with the team yielding just 8.5 ppg and a mere 328 yards of total offense. The team has also been opportunistic, holding a +6 in the turnover department, with four interceptions and two fumble recoveries against zero miscues through two games.
Senior linebacker Joe Schmidt leads the unit with 15 total tackles and one forced fumble. Junior safety Elijah Shumate has 13 stops and one interception to his credit. Sophomore linebacker Jaylon Smith (13 tackles. 2.0 TFL) and junior tackle Sheldon Day (11 tackles. 2.5 TFL) have been productive in the front seven as well.
Kelly pushed aside the notion of a letdown following the big win over Michigan.
"Well, they know it's at Lucas Oil. They know it's the Shamrock Series. The excitement of playing in the home where two of our captains are from, that gets their attention. So I think all of those things really lead themselves up to a special Saturday night. Our guys like to be on national television and they're pretty excited about it."