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Saturday, September 8, 3:30 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Nicholas DeLorenzo, Associate College Football Editor
GAME NOTES: Hoosier State rivals square off on Saturday afternoon, as the 22nd-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish play host to the Purdue Boilermakers.
Purdue's season opener was never in doubt, scoring the game's first 20 points against FCS opponent Eastern Kentucky and eventually cruising to an easy 48-6 victory. The Boilermakers improved to 74-45-6 all-time in their first game of the season and they have now won eight straight season openers at home. They'll try to move to 2-0 for the first time since 2007.
Notre Dame took on Navy in Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland in the first college football game played in Ireland since 1996 when the same two teams played in the Emerald Isle Classic. Much like the matchup 16 years ago, the Irish won in commanding fashion, 50-10. The performance helped make Notre Dame the newest member of the AP Top-25.
The Irish have won the last four meetings against the Boilermakers to improve to 55-26-2 in the all-time series. Purdue has not won in South Bend since 2004.
The Purdue offense had no issue at all putting up big numbers against the Eastern Kentucky defense last week, compiling 542 total yards.
With previously declared starter Caleb TerBush suspended one game for violating team rules, Robert Marve played in his place and threw for a career- high 295 yards and three touchdowns. Rob Henry (7-of-9, 77 yards) also threw a touchdown pass. Despite Marve's strong play, head coach Danny Hope plans for TerBush to return as the starter for Saturday's game.
O.J. Ross led the team in both receptions (eight) and receiving yards (71), while Antavian Edison (seven rec, 58 yds) and Gary Bush (six rec, 43 yds) also had nice receiving days. Edison, Bush, Gabe Holmes and Justin Sinz were all on the receiving end of touchdown passes.
The Purdue rushing attack was effective with 175 yards, paced by Akeem Shavers with 74 yards on 11 carries. Shavers also ran in an eight-yard touchdown.
The Eastern Kentucky offense proved to be no match for the Boilermaker defense, which surrendered just 190 yards while holding EKU to a single touchdown.
"This was huge for our confidence," Coach Danny Hope said of his team's defensive effort. "We have a chance to be very good on defense. The potential is there. These were great trial runs for the defense."
Landon Feichter returned an interception 34 yards for a touchdown, the first pick of his career. Will Lucas also made an interception, to go along with six tackles.
Defensive tackle Kawann Short blocked an extra point and a field goal attempt. He now has six blocked kicks in his career. The All-America candidate also recorded his first sack of the season to move into 13th place on the program's career list (13.5).
The Notre Dame offense found the end zone early as often against Navy, finishing with six touchdowns and 490 yards of total offense (293 rushing).
Making his first start was sophomore quarterback Everett Golson, who was as efficient as he needed to be in completing 12-of-18 passes for 144 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
Golson won the starting quarterback job in camp over three other competitors. Coach Brian Kelly was pleased with his performance.
"He made some good decisions and moved our offense well," Kelly said. "We put 50 points on the board, so that's a pretty good start."
Tight end Tyler Eifert was on the receiving end of a five-yard touchdown strike from Golson early on in the second quarter.
Navy's defense had no answer for the Irish rushing attack, as Theo Riddick garnered the most carries out of the backfield (19) and capitalized with 107 yards and two touchdowns. George Atkinson was nearly as effective on just nine totes, gaining 99 yards while also running in two scores. Robby Toma had only one carry on the day but it went for a nine-yard touchdown.
Notre Dame's defense was great when it mattered most, holding Navy's historically strong rushing attack to just 149 yards.
One of the biggest game-changing plays came on a 77-yard fumble return for a touchdown by Stephon Tuitt with 2:12 left in the first half, putting the Irish up 27-0.
Dan Fox and Bennett Jackson each recorded seven tackles to lead the team. Manti Te'o had an interception and a fumble recovery, and Prince Shembo, Kona Schwenke and Tuitt all tallied sacks.
Although both teams' season openers were considered tune-ups to prepare for the more challenging parts of their respective schedules, both the Boilermakers and the Fighting Irish appear to be in mid-season form in all facets of the game. There are plenty of playmakers on both sidelines that can shift the momentum of this game at a moments notice, but Notre Dame's potent rushing attack and the home field advantage should be good enough to outlast Purdue.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Notre Dame 35, Purdue 24
09/05 10:37:38 ET
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