NCAA Football: Purdue Boilermakers vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish Preview, Prediction & Odds - Sept. 18, 2021

by Chuck Sommers

Game time: 2:30 p.m. ET, September 18, 2021
Venue: Notre Dame Stadium, Notre Dame, IN
Where to watch: NBC

Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks


DraftKings: Notre Dame -7; O/U 58.5; Moneyline -- Notre Dame -290, Purdue +230
BetMGM: Notre Dame -7; O/U 58.5; Notre Dame -278, Purdue +220
Caesars: Notre Dame -7; O/U 58.5; Notre Dame -280, Purdue +230

Season record
Purdue: 2-0
No. 12 Notre Dame: 2-0

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Purdue - Notre Dame preview and analysis


Recent form
Purdue: won 49-0 at Connecticut on Sept. 11
Notre Dame: won 32-29 vs. Toledo on Sept. 11

This can go either one of two ways.

You’re either on the side of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish having the capability of figuring things out sooner than later, or you flat out don’t believe them at all.

This author is leaning toward the latter. Because how bad does that 3-point win over Florida State look right now?

It’s safe to say that Notre Dame’s toughest test to this point comes Saturday when the Purdue Boilermakers come to Notre Dame Stadium in what might be the most salivating play of the weekend … both against the spread and straight up.

The Irish had a golden opportunity to ease some qualms after that win at Florida State, but failed massively against the Toledo Rockets. Just think of the panic at Notre Dame had Dequan Finn’s 26-yard touchdown run with 1:35 left been the dagger. But Jack Coan responded with a three-play, 75-yard drive in 26 seconds to give Notre Dame the 32-29 win in South Bend.

A contest decided by three points for the second straight week, the last being a matchup that should’ve been over sooner. Coan’s interception in the second quarter, returned 27 yards by Chris McDonald for a touchdown, should have been the end-all, be-all.

But in Week 3, we get a matchup of quarterbacks that surprisingly favors the underdogs in this battle for Indiana supremacy. The Boilermakers are coming off a 49-0 win at UConn, which of course doesn’t say much in the current landscape of Huskies football.

Junior quarterback Jack Plummer has looked like a star so far, throwing for 558 yards and six touchdowns without an interception. But this will be Plummer’s toughest test yet, going on the road against a nationally-ranked opponent with a chance to put Purdue back on the national map.

But it’s not like the Irish defense is the best unit in the country right now. The Notre Dame defense has allowed a shade under 400 yards per game, primarily 194 per game on the ground. Bryant Koback had 114 on the ground, including a 67-yard run for Toledo.

Purdue leading rusher Zander Horvath broke his leg against UConn and will miss this game, as well as the next 4-8 weeks.

The Notre Dame offense, however, has picked up the slack tenfold with their QB leading the way. Coan made up for that pick-six by throwing for 239 yards and two touchdowns, following up the 366-yard, four-touchdown performance against FSU.

Prediction


While Notre Dame may have the talent to squeeze some wins out, it’s just been so unimpressive to this point. It depends on which quarterback you believe can commit the fewest number of turnovers and make the least amount of mistakes. I’m leaning toward Plummer. Purdue by 3.

Betting trends


Purdue is 9-21 against the spread as a road underdog of seven points or less in its last 30 games.

Notre Dame has won its last 22 games straight up as a favorite.

Players to watch


Purdue: The Boilers didn’t need much to win last week against the lowly Huskies, but will need their running game to take the pressure off Plummer in a hostile environment. King Doerue and Dylan Downing combined for 146 yards on 26 carries and a touchdown. Look for Purdue to establish the ground game early and open up the play-action often.

Notre Dame: Irish quarterback Tyler Buchner did everything against Toledo. Not only did he have 68 yards on seven carries, but also went 3-for-3 for 78 yards and a touchdown through the air. Coan and Buchner have developed a working two-quarterback system that may not work later in the year. But keep an eye on this if the Purdue defense gets to Coan and forces him to play outside his comfort level in the pocket.

Statistical leaders


Purdue:
Passing: Jack Plummer -- 558 yards, 6 TD, 0 INT
Rushing: Zander Horvath -- 89 yards, 1 TD
Receiving: David Bell -- 255 yards, 3 TD
Defense: Cam Allen -- 1 INT

Notre Dame:
Passing: Jack Coan -- 605 yards, 6 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Kyren Williams -- 120 yards, 1 TD
Receiving: Michael Mayer -- 201 yards, 3 TD
Defense: Isaiah Foskey -- 3 sacks

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Chuck Sommers

About the Author:

Chuck Sommers has camped outside of sportsbooks since he can remember, learning the tricks and nuances of the trade. He still has nightmares of betting $5,000 on the Raiders in the Tuck Rule game but has since turned that to 25 years of veteran handicapping greatness. You can find him mostly in the shadows at the Red Rock or Aliante casinos wondering if the over is cashing on any given Sunday.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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