After last week's trip to Pittsburgh, the Irish will be spending the next several weeks at home in the Hoosier State. The team begins October with a visit to West Lafayette for a meeting with Purdue at Ross-Ade Stadium.
With the exception of Navy, Purdue is Notre Dame's most common opponent. This year's game will be the 83rd in the series, which dates back to 1896. In the previous 82 meetings, Notre Dame is 54-26-2. The Irish have also won five of the last six games against their in-state opponent.
One of the oldest rivalries in Irish history, the series with the Boilermakers is also one of the most consistent. This year marks the 66th straight contest, as the teams have played every season since 1946.
Beginning in 1957, the winner of the game was presented with the Shillelagh Trophy, donated by Irish fan Joe McLaughlin, who brought it from Ireland. This trophy is not to be confused with the Jeweled Shillelagh, which goes to the winner of the annual Notre Dame-USC game.
Interestingly enough, Notre Dame used to have a Shillelagh in the school's series with Northwestern, before both of these trophies became part of the Purdue and USC traditions. The Northwestern Shillelagh was part of the annual meeting in the 1930's and 1940's.
Throughout Notre Dame's history with Purdue, the teams have played a number of memorable games. In 1906, the Irish escaped with a 2-0 win over Purdue. And yes, that was in football.
Sixty years later, Ara Parseghian's squad won its season opener against Purdue by a score of 26-14. Irish quarterback Terry Hanratty connected with the late Jim Seymour on 13 passes and three touchdowns for 276 yards, a school record that still stands today. Later that season, Time Magazine featured a painting of Hanratty and Seymour on the cover, proclaiming a passing revolution in football.
The 1977 game against Purdue contributed to the growing legend of Joe Montana. After a loss to Mississippi in the second game of the year, the "Comeback Kid" helped preserve Notre Dame's title hopes. Montana entered the game with the Irish down 24-14. He proceeded to throw for 154 yards and a touchdown, leading Notre Dame to a 31-24 victory and paving the way for a 10th national championship season.
More recently, Notre Dame's 2007 trip to Purdue began the student body's love affair with receiver Golden Tate. Despite a 33-19 loss, the freshman amassed 104 receiving yards on just three catches and it was not long before many Domers began wearing "Golden is Thy Tate" shirts around campus.
In 2009, Notre Dame's last visit to Ross-Ade Stadium, it took some last second heroics from Jimmy Clausen and Kyle Rudolph to escape with a 24-21 victory.
I have to admit, this was the first Irish game in quite some time that I did not watch. Along with several other Notre Dame friends, I happened to be at a Dave Matthews Band concert in Tinley Park, Ill. Just about the same time the band was starting their signature anthem, "Ants Marching," sending the crowd into a frenzy, we also had our own Irish celebration, receiving word that Notre Dame had taken the lead after converting a 4th-and-goal from the Purdue two-yard line. With just 25 seconds remaining, the touchdown pass was the third-latest go-ahead touchdown in Irish history.
Like Pittsburgh and Michigan State previously, Purdue may be one of the Notre Dame fan base's under-appreciated rivals. It won't be the same as the "Under the Lights" game at Michigan, but when the Irish visit West Lafayette on Saturday, the home crowd will be fired up. Notre Dame is annually one of the biggest games on the Boilermakers' schedule and a prime-time nationally televised game will only add to the atmosphere.
- Josh Flynt ('11)