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October 3, 2005

Road, sweet road for Irish

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Notre Dame might want to consider moving its game with USC to Los Angeles.

The Irish defeated Purdue 49-28 Saturday night to improve to 4-0 away from Notre Dame Stadium. Their only loss this season was at home against Michigan State.

Notre Dame now has a bye week before facing the top-ranked Trojans - time that coach Charlie Weis said he'll use in part to savor the win against his in-state rival.

Brady Quinn passed for 440 and three scores and Jeff Samardzija caught seven passes for 153 yards and two touchdowns in Saturday's game in West Lafayette.

Quinn said the No. 12 Irish embraced the challenge of playing at Purdue, which had been ranked No. 22 but fell out of the latest Associated Press Top 25.

"Going into a fierce environment against a tough team - obviously, their fans aren't the nicest. Any time you can come out with a win here, that says something about your team," he said.

Notre Dame (4-1) avoided losing their third game in a row in the series against Purdue (2-2) and avenged last year's 41-16 loss in South Bend. The Irish also have road wins against Pittsburgh, Michigan and Washington this season.

"We're more focused on the road than at home," Weis said. "You don't have all the distractions. You don't have pep rallies, you don't have family asking for tickets. All you have is meetings and football. This team has shown good resolve."

Purdue's Brandon Kirsch completed 29 of 44 passes for 274 yards and two touchdowns and Dorien Bryant caught a career-high 14 passes for 127 yards and two scores Saturday. But they piled up most of those numbers during garbage time.

Purdue's previous eight losses had been by seven points or less, and three of those had been in overtime. This was the Boilermakers' worst setback since a 31-3 loss to Michigan in 2003.

"Notre Dame played well," said Purdue coach Joe Tiller. "They played very well offensively, and we just couldn't stop the run or the passing game. I guess I'm not shocked, but I'm disappointed with the outcome."

Notre Dame gained more than 500 yards for the fourth time in five games this season. Meanwhile, Purdue allowed 621 yards a week after surrendering 572 against Minnesota.

The Boilermakers entered the game ranked 113th out of 117 teams in passing yards allowed per contest. That ranking won't improve after Quinn's performance.

Notre Dame gained 213 yards in the first quarter as Quinn completed 11 of 13 passes for 185 yards. Maurice Stovall caught seven passes for 116 yards in the opening period and finished with eight catches for 134 yards.

Notre Dame's defense had struggled at times this season, but found itself in the first half on Saturday. The Irish held Purdue to 143 yards and took a 28-0 lead at the break.

The Purdue game has frequently been a bellwether game for the Irish. Since World War II, the Irish have beaten the Boilermakers 38 times - with 36 of those seasons ending with winning records. In the 21 times the Irish have lost to the Boilermakers in that span, Notre Dame has finished the season at .500 or below 11 times.

Now, the Irish have some free time before they host Southern California. Weis said the team will have to learn how to maintain its intensity in South Bend.

"We're focused on becoming a home winning team," he said, "instead of this us against the world thing on the road."

For more coverage of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, check out IrishIllsutrated.com.



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