It was a struggle for most of the night, but for a span of two minutes in the fourth quarter the luck was with the Irish. Tommy Rees connected with DaVaris Daniels on two touchdown passes within the first few minutes of the fourth quarter, highlighted by an 82-yard bomb down the right sideline, to help Notre Dame tie and then take their first lead of the game against Purdue. Then, just minutes later Bennett Jackson picked off a pass from Purdue’s Rob Henry and returned it 34 yards. Notre Dame had scored more points in four minutes than they had in the previous three quarters en route to a 31-24 victory.
Purdue did make Notre Dame earn this one though. Following the pick-six, Henry guided the Boilermakers right back down field and scored a touchdown on a fourth down pass to Justin Sinz, who turned and stretched the extra couple of yards he needed to get in to the end zone. The score made it a seven-point game. On the ensuing possession for Notre Dame, running back Amir Carlisle lost a fumble on the first play of the drive but Purdue was unable to do anything with the gift received at the Notre Dame 36-yard line.
Notre Dame is clearly not the same team we witnessed last season. Sure, they won at Purdue but it was anything but impressive. The defense has shown each of the last two weeks that there is room for growth and improvement, and that could very well come over the course of the season. And Rees has been serviceable as the starting quarterback.
We’ll see where Notre Dame goes from here. The next three weeks will certainly be interesting. Next week Notre Dame hosts Michigan State, who suddenly found an offense and a starting quarterback today in East Lansing. The following week the Irish host Oklahoma, who also found some offense today. After that is a road trip to Cowboys Stadium to play against Arizona State, who is known for their offense. Can Notre Dame find enough offense to get to their bye week with a winning record in order?