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Irish haven’t forgotten last year

Joe Hettler | Friday, October 1, 2004

Notre Dame’s players did their best to mask any underlying dislike for Purdue this week.But it was clear the Irish hadn’t forgotten.”I got to be careful,” defensive end Kyle Budinscak said, formulating the politically correct answer. “They’re not our favorite team … this is a game where everybody on our team wants to get after these guys.”Aside from the 23-10 loss a year ago, it was the Boilermakers disrespect during that game that ticked the Irish off more than anything else.It began when Purdue ran through Notre Dame’s pregame warm-ups.”Yeah, that bugged me a lot,” Budinscak said. “I think that bugged everyone. That’s in the back of my mind, certainly.”It ended when the Boilermakers celebrating their first victory over the Irish since 1999.In between, the Irish were pushed around on both sides of the ball. Brady Quinn threw 59 passes in his first career start because of a non-existent running game, Purdue quarterback Kyle Orton connected for two touchdown passes and the Boilermaker defense grabbed four interceptions. Saturday, the Irish get their payback opportunity. They also get a chance to continue making this season a special one.The 76th meeting between these intrastate rivals has as many, if not more implications than any other in the recent series history. Purdue is ranked 15th in both national polls, averages around 50 points per game and has an early Heisman candidate in Orton. Notre Dame has recovered nicely from an embarrassing opening-game loss to Brigham Young with wins over then-No. 8 Michigan, Michigan State and Washington. Purdue’s offense has been nearly unstoppable in the first three games. Notre Dame’s defense has been equally as dominating.Something has to give.Behind all the intriguing matchups and statistics, lies one more crucial aspect of Saturday’s contest – the repercussions it will have on both team’s seasons.”A lot of times, whoever wins this game; it has a big impact on your season,” Budinscak said. “There’s a lot of animosity between the teams. It’s one of those games where you’re like, ‘Hey guys, you better bring your best game because we don’t want to lose this.'”A win for either team should be pivotal. If Purdue can beat Notre Dame on Saturday, it’ll pick up more confidence heading into the toughest part of its schedule. The Boilermakers have three difficult games remaining against Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio State. But all three games are in West Layette and all three are winnable. Meanwhile, a Notre Dame victory moves the Irish past their toughest opponent before traveling to Tennessee in November. The team will likely be favored in every game leading into the Volunteers matchup, and have a very realistic chance of starting the season 8-1.For now, it’s unlikely Notre Dame’s players are thinking that far ahead. The Irish simply remember the Boilermakers as the team that disrespected them a year ago. “I definitely have a chip on my shoulder from last year’s Purdue game,” offensive lineman Dan Stevenson said. “Obviously there were things they did that we didn’t like, and we haven’t forgotten about them,” Quinn reiterated.”There’s definitely some animosity between the two teams,” linebacker Mike Goolsby said.Notre Dame hasn’t forgotten the teams that embarrassed them during a 5-7 2003 campaign. This season, the Irish continue crossing opponents off their payback list.Michigan? Check.Michigan State? Got’em.Purdue? That opportunity waits. For Notre Dame, Saturday can’t come soon enough.