Two weeks isn’t the best sample size for comparison, but it gives us something to consider heading into the weekend. This is for my own edification, and means nothing in the current timeline we live in, but I don’t know, maybe you like to gamble on Purdue games. As a side note, if you like to gamble on Purdue games, you’re probably reading this from a public library, and you need to hurry because the guard is going to kick you out soon. Seriously folks, never bet on Purdue.
The Boilermakers come into this game riding the high of a two game winning streak, punctuated last week with a victory over the always formidable Washington Huskies! It’s always great to knock off a Pac-10 team on the road...or wait...it was UConn? The UConn Huskies? Well that’s just fine as well. That Jim Calhoun sure can coach. I’m not going to look at their record over the last decade, and assume they are a formidable opponent perfectly capable of winning football games and not a poor man’s version of Tulsa.
Either way, the state of origin for the dog mascot school we knocked off last week doesn’t matter, what matters, what universally matters in this world of confusion is beating Notre Dame in football this Saturday. In order to achieve this universal goal, Purdue must harness the power of the Brohmfence, similar, in a way, to how a laser beam focuses the...uh...sun? I don’t know y’all I have an English degree, but the laser beam is an important metaphor and I think we need to score at least 35-40 points to pull the upset, and seeing as how the over/under is set at 59.5...you’ve got to hammer the over...but I repeat....never bet on Purdue football...ever...that’s why I only have one pair of socks I found on the floor of the laundry mat and to be honest, they don’t match. If you were washing socks at the laundry mat yesterday and are currently missing a sock...my bad. Never bet on Purdue football.
So Boiler UP and let’s look at those STATS BABY WOOOOOOOOO! GO BOILERS!!! (Spirit Fingers Followed by the “honk the horn” motion)
Scoring Offense vs Scoring Defense (Points Per Game)
Purdue Offense - 39.5 (29th)
Notre Defense - 33.5 (111th)
Hey now, this looks pretty, pretty good. Purdue is a scorer of points and Notre Dame is a giver awayer of points. I’m feeling the vibes put off by these numbers, y’all feel those vibes? I know, I know, Notre Dame opened the season with Florida State, and if this were any year from 1977-2016 that would mean something, but as it stands in 2021, giving up 38 points to FSU is something that happens in the first half of a basketball game, not something that happens in a football game. I had a joke about it being a good thing Notre Dame wasn’t an Under Armor school, because they have not protected this house...but it turns out they are an Under Armor team, which frankly, is a funny to me for reasons I can’t put my finger on.
Total Offense vs Total Defense (Yards Per Game)
Purdue Offense - 481.5 (30th)
Notre Defense - 393.5 (89th)
Another pro-Purdue stat. They move the ball down the field, and Notre Dame allows teams to move down the field. We’ll get to why that happens in a moment, but it happens, and it’s a good thing for the Boilermakers.
3rd Down Conversion Percentage vs 3rd Down Defense
Purdue Offense - 54% (15th)
Notre Defense - 42% (90th)
Licks lips and rubs hands together. Ohh yeah, that’s the good stuff. Notre Dame can’t get off the field on 3rd down, and Purdue does a nice job of keeping the ball because defense isn’t fun for Jeff Brohm, and I’m O.K. with his selfish reasons behind holding onto the ball for long periods of time and wearing out a defense. It’s a win/win situation as far as I’m concerned.
Rushing Offense (Yards Per Game)
Purdue Offense - 137.5 (89th)
Notre Defense - 194 (104)
The deal is, Notre Dame can’t stop the run, but Purdue doesn’t want to run all that much. It’s a bit of quandary, because I would enjoy nothing more in this world than watching the Boilermakers kick the Notre Dame defense in the teeth with a punishing run game, and then continue kicking them, and kicking them, and just wailing away on them, brutal stuff you understand, something that you want to look away from, but can’t because some animalistic programing buried deep in your brain stem, but that’s probably not going to happen. Purdue needs to be efficient with their run game, and they should be efficient against this Notre Dame defense, even with Horvath out with a Purdue knee.
Time of Possession (Average Time of Possession)
Purdue - 34 (13th)
Notre Dame - 30 (59th)
I’m cheating a little, because there is no defensive equivalent to time of possession, but I made the rules, and if I didn’t tell y’all, you wouldn’t know this was a rule, so I don’t feel bad. Anyways, I added this to further support the idea that Purdue has played a bunch of offense this year, and that’s a good thing. Meanwhile, Notre Dame has played an even amount of offense and defense, and most of the defense has been bad.
Passing Offense vs Passing Defense (Yards Per Game)
Purdue Offense - 344 (11th)
Notre Defense - 199.5 (62nd)
The not so Fighting Irish (I’m incredibly clever and original), defense is better at stopping the run than the pass, but this could be another case of a defense being so brutal against the run, the opponents don’t bother to throw, because what’s the point? Jeff Brohm will always bother to throw, and throw, and then, when you think he’s about to run, he’ll throw it again. I’m dying for a little more balance, but my certified letters to Coach Brohm (can’t let my intel fall into enemy hands) keep coming back return to sender. Plummer is on a heater, and if all goes according to plan, next week Notre Dame’s passing defense will fall down the rankings and their run defense will move up a few notches.
Yards Per Passing Completion vs Yards Allowed Per Completion
Purdue Offense - 11.66 (77th)
Notre Defense - 12.09
Jack Plummer hasn’t met a short/intermediate route he can’t complete. I don’t mind this. When you toss the ball around as much as Purdue, you need to complete a bunch of passes, otherwise you spend your time standing around on the sideline, and standing on the sideline isn’t conducive to scoring points, and scoring points is the agreed up metric for determining the winner of football games. This is also a subtle nod to the struggles of the offense line. You know the timers that make a super urgent sound at the end of a turn and cause you to lose your composure and knock all the pieces off the board, that’s what the clock in Plummer’s head sounds like when he drops back to pass. Luckily, he’s a little cooler under pressure than some of y’all (don’t look at me, I’m ice cold).
Sacks Allowed vs Defensive Sacks (Per Game)
Purdue Offense - 2 (64th)
Notre Defense - 5 (5th)
Score one for the bad guys. Purdue loves to pass the ball with a shaky offensive line and Notre Dame loves to crush quarterbacks who pass the ball with a shaky offensive line. I’m about as confident in Purdue’s tackles in pass protection as I am in the week old fish (from taco night) waiting to be dealt with in the back of my fridge. This is a race between Plummer’s ability to throw the ball and Notre Dame’s ability to crush him before he throws the ball. Let’s hope Jack wins.
Passing Efficiency vs Passing Efficiency Defense
Purdue Offense - 181.02 (15th)
Notre Defense - 115.72 (47th)
Here we go, Purdue, is a well oiled, efficient passing machine. Wait, no, they are a well greased passing train (need to work on this one). The Irish are marginally decent (a highly scientific unit of measurement) at derailing passes. Purdue’s conductor is getting the ball out on time, and to the correct station. This seems like an obscure stat, but passing efficiency, along with sacks, are the two metrics I have circled for Saturday’s game (which is extremely important). If Plummer keeps everything running smoothly, I like the Boilermakers chances of reaching their destination on time...and I’m done with the train thing.
Red Zone Offense vs Red Zone Defense(% of Scores Inside the Red Zone)
Purdue Offense - 88% (53rd)
Notre Defense - 88% (76th)
We’ve got a draw. Purdue is decent, but not great, at scoring points in the red zone and Notre Dame is decent, but not great, at stopping teams from scoring points in the red zone. That said, this is one of those “week 2” stats that don’t tell us much, but I’m going to continue to use this template and feel like I have to include it. If you ask my beautiful wife what you can’t do in big games if you want to win, her eyes will glaze over and the phrase “you can’t win big games kicking field goals” reflexively falls out of her mouth, because I’ve done my job well over the last 20 or so years. Purdue has entered the fabled red zone on 9 occasions this season. They’ve rushed for 2 touchdowns, thrown for 5 touchdowns and kicked a field goal. I take my opening statement in this paragraph back, that’s good red zone production, but I’m leaving my opening statement in this paragraph to show that I’m fallible and that college coaches should not, under any circumstance, read my articles instead of doing their own scouting.
Notre Dame, despite running a hot garbage defense, has only allowed 1 passing touchdown in the red zone. Basically, when you cram a bunch of 4* athletes in a tiny box, it’s hard to throw the ball into that box, even if the 4* athletes don’t appear to know what they’re doing. Brohm needs someone to remind him that running the ball when you’re inside the 20 against a team that has yet to stop anyone from running the ball, is a legitimate strategy in American Football, and should be considered. I would consider skipping the red zone all together and scoring 5 touchdowns on passes of 20 or more, but I’m built different. Purdue will be in the red zones, and if they kick field goals, my wife will look at me, shake her head and say, “You can’t win big games kicking field goals in the red zone.”
My Take Away
This Notre Dame defense is bad...like Diaco bad (I ultimately blame Notre Dame for Purdue’s defense last season) . They gave up 38 points to a Florida State team that couldn’t crack 20 points against an FCS school. They followed that failure by giving up 29 points to An Ohio State football team from Toledo. Purdue, in theory, is significantly better than both of those teams when it comes to putting points on the scoreboard.
As I mentioned above, If Purdue’s passing game can maintain its defense crushing efficiency and the offense line can give up...oh, let’s say 3 sacks or less. Purdue has a serious chance to pull the upset and spare us from having to watch Notre Dame get embarrassed in the CFP yet again. I don’t want to put any undo pressure on the boys, but I’ve wasted too much time watching the Fighting Irish get laughed off the field in January, and think another team should have the opportunity to get laughed off the field. Purdue could make this happen for me by putting up 50 points on this tissue paper defense and erasing all doubts. If they don’t want to win it for themselves, their head coach, their friends, family, pets etc...they should consider winning it to improve my college football viewing experience in January.
Looking at the above numbers, I like their chances.