WEST LAFAYETTE—So much for morale victories and a promising start for the season.
The reality of rebuilding for Danny Hope came full circle when the Boilermakers trailed most of the game, and then eventually lost to MAC school Northern Illinois 28-21 last Saturday.
So here are the three things to look for if you're headed to West Lafayette Saturday night.
1.Focus Factor- In many post game comments after the loss to Northern Illinois, many of the Purdue players said they had a bad week of preparation, and they weren't as fired up as they could be to get ready. That obviously showed in the game, as the Boilers let the Huskies jump to a 28-7 lead until a late comeback made the score respectable. Hope is known as an intensity coach first, so his ability to fire up his team will be tested.
2.The Next Golden Boy-Few eras over the past 60 years for Notre Dame have been met with more criticism that this recent stretch for the Irish. In the middle of that is Jimmy Clausen, who was the primary starter during two rough seasons for the Irish in 2007 and 2008. Some rough experiences seemed to have helped Clausen, who has been one of the best quarterbacks in the nation through the first month of the season. The quarterback is second in the nation in passer rating (188.6) thanks to throwing for 951 yards and nine touchdowns without an interceptions. Torii Williams and the secondary will have their biggest test of the season Saturday night, and stopping Clausen and receiver Golden Tate is the best place to start on the road to victory.
3.Bold-en Attack?-The key to Purdue's success in a win over Toledo and a close loss to Oregon was the running of Ralph Bolden, who led the NCAA in rushing after the first two weeks of the season. But in game against Northern Illinois, he carried just 12 times (as opposed to near 20 in his first two games) and gained 64 yards as the rushing game fell short as the team was forced to through when behind. In order to beat Notre Dame-whose defense hasn't been particularly impressive over three games-running the ball is where it has to start, and getting Jaycen Taylor involved is never a bad idea.