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Big Ten 2010 // Keeping the Enemy Close - Talking Purdue With A Golden Domer

It's Friday. Rivalry Friday. Since Purdue lacks a true hated rival, I convinced Rakes of Mallow to generate some off-season disgust for its oft dominated counterpart. Brushing off Purdue as a second tier rival and including ND-Purdue video highlights are some of my favorite parts of Rakes' responses. For all you kids out there, that's EXACTLY how you should treat an annual opponent who you have been kicking around for years. Kudos, Rakes of Mallow, kudos. Also, take a look at this Notre Dame Spring Football depth chart on R of M. Always good to see a Montana in the Irish QB competition.

I espoused the theory, earlier this week, that Purdue is the Big Ten's "Biggest Sweetheart." They have likable fans, fun passing offenses, and Drew Brees. So how do ND fans get all revved up and angry at Purdue on a yearly basis?

Purdue/Notre Dame games are usually fun affairs because you've had offense-heavy teams with name quarterbacks tossing the ball around for a while now.  There's been some really good quarterbacks to come through the programs over the last few years - Brees, Kyle Orton, Brady Quinn, Jimmy Clausen - and generally you're not going to see a lot of punting, while field goals are also frowned upon.  Danny Hope has already shown he'll continue to embrace the Joe Tiller style of play and Brian Kelly has had a knack for developing quarterbacks, so I think we'll hopefully continue to see these back-and-forth, high-scoring style of games.

ND has basically dominated its matchup with Purdue. In fact, Purdue's last six victories over ND have been against mediocre Irish squads. What's at the root of this Irish dominance? Is there a mental barrier the Boilers are unable to overcome?

I think that at least during the last five years, Purdue's plan of playing "basketball on grass" was a huge advantage for Charlie Weis.  As a great offensive coach, he was comfortable in shootouts, so the Boilermakers never fielding a particularly dominant defense meant his QB-reliant offenses could get up and down the field.  As good as Tiller and Hope's offenses were, Weis was just a little bit better in almost every game.  Among the teams Weis played annually in his time at ND, his mark against the Boilers, 4-1, was one of his best.  And even the loss - a road game during the 2007 Season of Infinite Sadness - was close in the fourth quarter, and featured the breakout game for a freshman wideout named Golden Tate (3 catches for 104 yards and a score).  With Coach Kelly taking charge, I'd like to think the current trend of Notre Dame victories - be that in dominant fashion, or skin-of-your-teeth luck - will continue.

The Irish have so many yearly matchups; USC, Michigan, etc. In regards to the importance of these rivalries, where does Purdue rank?

Purdue is definitely a second-tier rivalry for the Irish.  Being only a couple hours apart means you get a healthy dose of visiting fans whether the game is in South Bend or West Lafayette, which always makes things more interesting.  However, if you asked the average Irish fan to list their team's rivals, the Boilermakers would be a little farther down the list.  USC and Michigan come first, then there's a scrum of teams clustered together, of which Purdue is a member.

Do you have any especially fond memories of ND-Purdue games?

Oh, so very many, both good and bad.  My freshman year in 2004 the Irish had a decent squad, but the crowd was fired up for an undefeated Boilers team and Heisman candidate Kyle Orton.  The first half didn't go well, but at the start of the third quarter, Purdue was backed up in the shadow of the student section, crowd going wild, momentum about to turn and then...

At least with the new taunting rules, that touchdown will be retroactively struck from the record books, although not from my memory.

In 2005, Charlie Weis' offense blazed through Ross-Ade, complete with the "It's 49-21, sweetheart" comment to Holly Rowe from Ron Franklin and this ridiculous catch by Jeff Samardzija:

Last year's game was particularly fun for Irish partisans.  Jimmy Clausen could barely walk and back-up Dayne Crist actually played the majority of the game.  Some horrible lapses by the Irish defense gave Purdue a late lead, at which point Clausen was forced back into action for one final drive.  On fourth and goal with a few ticks left...




This week...

Spring Field Guide

Purdue's Greatest Strength - Ball Catches

Purdue's Greatest Weakness

MVP Profile-Ryan Kerrigan

Keeping the Enemy Close - Rakes of Mallow talks Purdue

More Big Ten 2010...

Indiana | Michigan | Illinois | Minnesota