OSIPOFF: With rivalry’s future murky, Boilers relish next shot at ND
By Michael Osipoff 713-2485 or firstname.lastname@example.org September 11, 2013 8:48PM
Purdue's Darrell Hazell greets the fans following his first win as head coach against Indiana State 20-14 during the second half of an NCAA college football game at Ross-Ade Stadium, in West Lafayette, on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013. (AP Photo/Journal & Courier, Brent Drinkut)
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Updated: October 15, 2013 6:57AM
Purdue and Notre Dame first played each other in football in 1896.
The Boilermakers and Irish have met every season since 1946.
So even though this season’s game will mark Darrell Hazell’s inaugural experience competing for the Shillelagh Trophy, he knows full well about the tradition associated with this rivalry.
“It’s really fun just to think how long this series has been going on uninterrupted,” Purdue’s coach said. “I’m excited about this game Saturday night. There’s a lot of hype going on right now. But we have to make sure as a staff and as a football team that we put in the preparations that we need to do to help our chances to be successful, and that’s the bottom line.
“I would love for this game to continue every single season. I think that it’s good. Any time you have in-state rivalries, I think that makes for good spectating.”
The future of the series does indeed remain uncertain. On the Purdue side, the Big Ten will expand to a nine-game conference schedule in 2016. And in 2014, Notre Dame begins playing five games per season against ACC opponents. The schools have a contract to play next season, and 2015 looks promising too; but beyond that season, the matchup gets murky.
This season, though, it’s crystal clear. Prime time, under the lights at Ross-Ade Stadium. Televised by ABC.
“They’re sending the blimp to see us,” Hazell said, “so it’s going to be nice. It’s going to be a great venue, it’s going to be a sold-out crowd, we’ll have our great students there who did a phenomenal job last week of getting loud when they needed to get loud. It’s going to be a lot of fun. It’s going to be a great environment.”
In terms of results, the rivalry hasn’t been particularly fun for Purdue. The Boilermakers have lost five straight games to the Irish, and seven of the last eight. And most people don’t give Purdue much of a chance this time around against No. 21 Notre Dame.
“That just puts more fuel on the fire,” cornerback Frankie Williams said. “But it doesn’t change what we have to do — we have to worry about us, get out communication down and work hard every day.”
Though much has changed, the Boilermakers have tried to draw on last season’s game in South Bend, a 20-17 win for the Irish.
“It definitely gives us a lot of confidence,” right tackle Justin Kitchens said. “We have nothing to lose. We’re going out there and we’re trying to make something happen.
“This Notre Dame-Purdue rivalry is big. People talk about it all throughout the summer. It’s like the biggest rivalry of the year, pretty much.”
And a win in such a game could do wonders for the Boilermakers, who haven’t exactly stormed out of the gate, with a blowout loss at Cincinnati and a lackluster win against Indiana State.
“The first two games haven’t really been a good perspective on our actual team and a reflection on ourselves,” Kitchens said. “But we know what we have, we know our talent level. It’s still the beginning of the year. This could be our game right here. This could be the game that we really put ourselves on the map right here.”