Following Flynt - An Excellent Win

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5691830.jpeg Yes, we all know 38-3 would have been a bit sweeter.

A late Purdue score prevented Notre Dame from its first win without allowing a touchdown since last season's Army game at Yankee Stadium. But at the end of the night, the Fighting Irish and their faithful fans were smiling, and they probably still are today.

It was not a flawless victory, but it was certainly the most complete win of the season and the most impressive offense performance in quite some time.

Notre Dame was in control from the beginning. On the first play from scrimmage, Gary Gray intercepted a Caleb TerBush pass, and shortly later, Tommy Rees found Michael Floyd for a 35-yard touchdown.

The Irish offense gained 551 total yards through a nearly perfectly balanced attack - 40 rushing attempts for 287 yards and 41 passes for 264 yards.

After Pittsburgh's secondary made him a non-factor in last week's game, Floyd bounced back in West Lafayette, catching 12 passes for 137 yards.

On the ground, Cierre Wood and Jonas Gray combined for 285 yards. Wood had 20 carries for 191 yards, including an impressive 55-yard touchdown in the second quarter. For the second consecutive week, Gray also found the end zone, finishing with 15 rushes and 94 yards.

Five Irish players scored touchdowns and T.J. Jones and game captain Tyler Eifert each had their second score of the year. Ben Turk only punted twice, and for the first time this season, Notre Dame did not turn the ball over.

Defensively, the Irish limited Purdue to 276 yards, just over half of the ground covered by Notre Dame's offense. Manti Te'o and Aaron Lynch sacked TerBush and it took the Boilermakers more than 59 minutes to score a touchdown.

In preparing for Saturday's home game against Air Force, the Irish will certainly seek to improve their special teams. Notre Dame missed two field goals and finished with -3 yards on seven punt return opportunities. And while they may have been overshadowed by Purdue's astounding 13 penalties for 118 yards, the Irish committed eight infractions of their own.

Notre Dame can get away with these types of mistakes against a lesser opponent, but that will likely not be the case against teams like USC and Stanford.

At the end of the year, Purdue will probably finish as one of the weaker teams on Notre Dame's schedule. Still, Saturday's win is worth savoring. Notre Dame fans can be a picky group and 15-12 over Pittsburgh left many unsatisfied. However, this was the kind of statement, dominating win that Irish nation longs to see. It is the type of victory that can build confidence and momentum and it is a sign of how this Notre Dame team is capable of playing.

If the Irish use yesterday's performance as the standard they seek to emulate for the rest of the season, there is a good chance we'll have many more enjoyable Saturday evenings and smiling Sunday mornings in 2011.

- Josh Flynt ('11)

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