Keys to the Game: Notre Dame and Purdue

O.J. Ross should have a lot to say about who wins this Saturday. (US Presswire)

NOTRE DAME WILL WIN IF: It can maintain the same kind of success on the ground that it did against Navy last weekend. The Irish rushed for 293 yards and 5 touchdowns against Navy in Ireland, and took a lot of pressure off freshman quarterback Everett Golson while doing so. Golson completed 12 of his 18 passes last week, but did throw an interception and did show some flashes of the inconsistency you'd expect from a freshman quarterback.

On defense it will be important for the Irish to get pressure on Caleb TerBush. Purdue lit Eastern Kentucky up for 372 yards through the air last week, but that was with Robert Marve under center and against Eastern Kentucky. This Notre Dame defense is quite different. Still, with an inexperienced secondary, it will be imperative for the Irish front seven to get pressuer on TerBush, Marve or whoever is playing quarterback.

PURDUE WILL WIN IF: It successfully attacks the Notre Dame secondary. In order to do this the Boilermakers offensive line must give the quarterback enough time to find receivers roaming through the secondary. If this happens, there should be plenty of space available. If Navy was able to throw for 192 yards and average over 10 yards per attempt against the Notre Dame secondary, Purdue should be able to throw for at least 350.

While Notre Dame was able to put 50 points on the board last week, it still doesn't have an offense that it would want to get in a shootout with, as Golson is more likely to make freshman mistakes if he's forced to throw 25 times or more.

X-FACTOR: O.J. Ross and Antavian Edison -- The two Purdue receivers will have a very large say in the outcome of this game. Whichever one looks across the line of scrimmage and sees freshman KeiVarae Russell -- the first freshman corner to ever start a season opener for the Irish -- will have to be ready to take advantage of a kid who only began playing corner this spring.

CBS Sports Writer

Tom Fornelli has been a college football writer at CBS Sports since 2010. During his time at CBS, Tom has proven time and again that he hates your favorite team and thinks your rival is a paragon of football... Full Bio

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