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Champs Sports Bowl Game of the Week: Purdue at Notre Dame

The Champs Sports Bowl Game Of The Week is a preview of a pivotal matchup featuring teams from the Big East and/or ACC that could impact the bowl picture.

Week One: 
Purdue (0-0) @ Notre Dame (0-0)

 

Saturday, Sept. 4 �- 3:30 p.m.
Notre Dame Stadium – South Bend, Ind. (NBC)
LSU leads series 53-26-2
Last Meeting: Sept. 26, 2009 (Notre Dame 24, Purdue 21)

Purdue Outlook

Danny Hope begins his second season as head coach at Purdue and has made some adjustments on both sides of the ball. Even though the Boilermakers finished last season 5-7 (4-4 Big Ten), many considered 2009 as a success as five of those losses came by one touchdown or less (including a two-point loss to eventual Pac-10 champ Oregon). Their marquee moment was a midseason upset of Big Ten powerhouse Ohio State, 26-18.

As in past years, Purdue will depend largely on the passing game and the leadership of Miami transfer Robert Marve at quarterback.  Marve went 6-5 as a starter for the Hurricanes in 2008 but transferred following the season.  After sitting out last year, he won the starting job at Purdue and stands to be the next product of the �Cradle of Quarterbacks� in West Lafayette. The key to the end zone seems to be finding wide receiver Keith Smith. Smith ended the 2009 season with 91 receptions 1,100 yards and posted six touchdowns.

Notre Dame Outlook

Fighting Irish fans are hoping that new head coach Brian Kelly can return Notre Dame to its place among the nation�s elite programs. Kelly inherits a talented team including a group of seasoned veterans to control the defensive side of the ball. Linebacker Manti Te�o finished with 63 tackles in nine games as a true freshman in 2009, and moves from outside to inside in Notre Dame�s new 3-4 scheme.
 

The biggest difference fans will notice this year is the speed of the offense. Junior Dayne Crist, who appeared in four games in 2009 and averaged 13.0 yards per completion, will take the reins of the spread no-huddle attack that Kelly used to lead Cincinnati to two consecutive BCS berths. Michael Floyd will be the key receiver for the 2010 Irish as he finished second behind NFL draft pick Golden Tate in receptions (44) and yards (795) while posting nine touchdowns a year ago.

 

Impact on Bowl Picture

The excitement about the new generation of Notre Dame Football is well deserved but most pundits have the Irish falling short of BCS contention. The Champs Sports Bowl has the option to take Notre Dame once during the next four years, but for Kelly and company to make it to Orlando they�ll need a fast start against a slate of Big Ten rivals, including Purdue.  The Boilermakers aren�t expected to challenge for a conference championship against preseason Top 25 teams like Ohio State, Iowa, Wisconsin and Penn State, but last season�s Buckeye upset shows that they can play spoiler, if not more.  An upset on the opening day of the �new� Notre Dame regime � especially if Marve emerges as the next in a line of prolific Purdue passers � could spur the team on for a surprise run at a Champs Sports Bowl berth.

Extra Point

Before leading Division I FBS programs, Danny Hope and Brian Kelly gained experience in a lower division � Hope for FCS Eastern Kentucky from 2003-2007 and Kelly at Division II Grand Valley State from 1991-2003.  Both men endured their only losing season as a head coach in their first year making the jump to FBS.  Hope went 5-7 with Purdue last season and Kelly went 4-7 at Central Michigan in 2004.

Expert Predictions

Andrea Adelson

Andrea Adelson
ESPN.com CFB Blogger

PICK:  Notre Dame

Bram Weinstein

Bram Weinstein
ESPN Anchor

PICK:  Notre Dame

Jay Gruden

Jay Gruden
Florida Tuskers Coach

PICK:  Notre Dame

Chuck Beverly

Chuck Beverly
FCSports Chairman

PICK:  Notre Dame

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