NCAA Football With Shobe: Week 6 at Notre Dame Edition
The details of the game aren't worth rehashing here when so many others have covered the ground. Suffice it to say it was amazing that Notre Dame outgained the Boilers in many statistical categories but capitalized on virtually none of the game's available momentum. First downs (28 to 22), time of possession (33:12 to 26:48), passing yardage (460 to 413), even pass attempts (49 to 32) -- all these numbers favored the Irish. They only committed a single turnover. The devil in those details is their place in the narrative of the game. That fumble was on the two yard line, with a Notre Dame touchdown all but assured -- somehow this fact has been overlooked in most of the game summaries I've read. Orton converted the subsequent 98 yard TD drive into an emphatic 14 point swing. If you let someone march 98 yards down main street after a critical turnover in their red zone, you got what you paid for. And nowhere in the offense/defense stats pack does Jerome Brooks' historic 100 yard kickoff return figure in. I think that one play cut the power to the student section just before halftime; a rolling blackout emptied the rest of the stadium by the middle of the 4th quarter. The Purdue corner was howling wild with life throughout the contest, shaking down its own thunder from that cloudless sky.
After the game I said, mostly in a delusional state, that this Purdue team could play with any college team in the country. Not necessarily win, but probably keep it within 7 no matter the opponent because of the offense and Orton. On Sunday evening, I'm not entirely sure any rational fan should be making such claims on the Boiler's behalf, but I tell you I've never seen a offense as in synch as this one at Purdue. Brees was a great scrambler and huddle presence, but his receivers would drop critical passes at awful times. This corps, especially Stubblefield, have the velcro-hands thing going, and Orton can place the ball with a surveyor's precision. Defense remains sketchy, but it appears to be "just good enough" for the given occasion.
I still can't believe I got to witness that thing in person. Prior to Brooks' kickoff return, I remember yelling "my GOD, take a knee!" when he was 2 yards deep in the end zone. So, sure, I'm the chump now, but you have to admit it was the most harebrained of schemes to take that ball out.
Visiting Fan Observation: Many of the ND fans and every single usher were painfully gracious hosts. This was, um, even *before* the game. It's a classy home base, I begrudgingly allow. There were some real cornpone chump Purdue fans near us, too, bellowing about Orton and Heisman well before kickoff and shouting inane things like "B - Y - WHOO?!," apparently to remind the faithful of their awkward season opener. I'm pretty sure our reputation as the coach class of the traveling Big Ten is intact. What a bunch of yutzes. I was so embarrassed. Even with that, a good number of ND fans (the ones who didn't leave at the beginning of the 4th quarter, that is) shook my hand on the way out and even offered a "good luck next week" or two.
All of this doesn't mean I'm gonna start to cheer, cheer for old Notre Dame anytime soon. But I was surprised and impressed with the sportsmanship. Maybe a couple iffy seasons have humbled some Irish boosters?