After Michigan loss, Notre Dame not taking Purdue lightly

After Michigan loss, Notre Dame not taking Purdue lightly
September 13, 2013, 12:45 pm
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- It's been 23 months since Notre Dame had to rebound a week after a loss.

Between losing to USC on Oct. 22, 2011 and Michigan last Saturday, Notre Dame's three losses either came at the end of the regular season (vs. Stanford in 2011) or in bowl games (Florida State and Alabama).

"Dinner doesn't taste good. Meetings are a lot harder. Practice is probably a little bit more spirited," coach Brian Kelly said. "But you know, it still comes down to the attention to detail. We've got to be smarter and more disciplined as a football team and that's what I'll be looking for this week."

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It's worth noting that, two years ago, Notre Dame unleashed its wrath on Navy after falling to USC, routing the Midshipmen 56-14. That wasn't a good Navy team -- they went 5-7 -- and the same can, right now, be said for Notre Dame's opponent this weekend.

Purdue began its first season under coach Danny Hazell with a 42-7 blowout loss to Cincinnati, a team which turned around and got blown out by an Illinois squad that went 2-10 in 2012. In Week 2, Purdue barely squeaked by FCS-side Indiana State, 20-14. That's the same Indiana State team that allowed 73 points to Indiana in Week 1.

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"At the end of the day, every team shows up to play us," cornerback Bennett Jackson said. "You can't take anyone lightly."
That Notre Dame players and coaches have to say that line, though, probably is telling. During his Tuesday press conference, Kelly begged the assembled media to ask him about Purdue.

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The Boilermakers aren't completely bereft of talent -- cornerback Ricardo Allen is one of the better defensive backs in the Big Ten, for example -- but it's a group that hasn't shown many positives through two weeks. Making matters worse, its leading pass-catcher, tight end Gabe Holmes (nine receptions, 69 yards), will miss Saturday's game.

"Purdue's going to be ready for Notre Dame," Kelly reiterated. "We have no doubt about that and we respect our opponent.

"But, look, we've got to put blinders on and we've got to focus on ourselves. We're not a finished product. We've got some work to do."

Perhaps the most important thing Notre Dame can do is to generate some momentum in West Lafayette. Just about every sign points to the Irish winning easily, and while Kelly invoked last year's matchup against Purdue, the circumstances on Saturday are far different (for one, Tommy Rees isn't starting his first home game).

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Notre Dame has a few tests coming up -- Michigan State and Oklahoma have shown to be stout defensive teams so far, and we'll know more about Arizona State after its matchup with Wisconsin this weekend -- but there's a very real possibility the Irish don't face a Top 20 opponent until the last week of the season.

Even with a loss to Michigan, Notre Dame's path to a BCS bowl is fairly clear. There's just less room for error.