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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — So much for Michael Floyd the decoy.
Twenty-four seconds into Notre Dame’s game against Purdue, the star receiver surpassed his yardage total from the previous week. His 35-yard touchdown catch from Tommy Rees sparked a 38-10 rout of Purdue on Saturday night.
Floyd caught four passes for 27 yards against Pittsburgh, and he talked during the week about his willingness to do his job and help the team’s other talented receivers get open.
This week, Floyd was featured.
“Getting Mike Floyd the ball early on really gave us a lot of confidence offensively,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. “It was more of a concerted to make sure he got his touches and making it part of our game plan that he has to touch the ball and not that if the offense comes to him it comes to him. We’re not going to play that way. Mike has to get the ball and that’s what we saw.”
Floyd thought it was important for the Fighting Irish to get off to a quick start, considering the way some of their games have gone during this up-and-down season.
“That’s what we needed,” he said. “When you go on the road, you have to make a point as soon as you get the ball, and that’s what we did.”
Floyd’s excellence was just one element of the team’s most dominant performance of the season. Notre Dame outgained Purdue 551 yards to 276. It was a season-high yardage total for the Irish and their third game with at least 500 yards of offense.
Tommy Rees passed for 254 yards and three touchdowns for the Fighting Irish (3-2).
Cierre Wood ran for a career-high 191 yards on 20 carries and Jonas Gray rushed for 94 yards, highlighting a running game that churned out 287 yards on 40 attempts.
“We always talk about it just being another day at the office,” Wood said. “I have to give a big shout out to my offensive line. It wouldn’t have been possible without them. They opened up the holes and they blocked perfectly.”
The Irish had committed 15 turnovers in their first four games, but none against Purdue. This time, Notre Dame’s opponent made the mistakes. The Boilermakers also committed 13 penalties for 118 yards.
Perhaps the only issue in question for the Irish was whether they ran up the score. Notre Dame went for it on fourth-and-1 from the Purdue 35 early in the fourth quarter with a 31-3 lead, and Rees completed a 6-yard screen pass to TJ Jones for the first down. The Irish eventually scored on that drive.
“We’re just trying to play,” Kelly said. “If there’s nine guys on the line of scrimmage, and they want to blitz … I don’t know if you saw the last play, we ran a screen and they brought everybody. Both teams were still playing.”
Antavian Edison’s performance was one of the few bright spots for Purdue (2-2). He caught seven passes for 105 yards and a score.
The Boilermakers entered the game with a two-quarterback system, and they left it with nothing settled. Caleb TerBush started and completed 10 of 15 passes for 101 yards and a touchdown. Robert Marve relieved him in the second quarter and got the start in the second half, but couldn’t move the team. TerBush re-entered the game and threw a touchdown pass, but it came in the final minute with Purdue down 38-3.
“We didn’t play well,” Purdue coach Danny Hope said. “We didn’t have any luck. We didn’t match up well. We’re a better team than that.”
Purdue’s TerBush threw an interception right to Notre Dame’s Gary Gray on the first play from scrimmage and two plays later, Rees found Floyd beyond Purdue’s defense for their long touchdown connection.
After Purdue was forced to punt, Notre Dame drove 81 yards before stalling. Purdue’s Kawann Short blocked David Ruffer’s 28-yard field-goal try, and the Boilermakers escaped the threat.
Later in the first quarter, Purdue had Notre Dame stopped on a third-and-goal, but an unsportmanlike conduct penalty on Albert Evans gave the Irish a first down. Notre Dame then scored on a 2-yard run by Gray to take a 14-0 lead.
Ruffer missed a 49-yard field goal early in the second quarter, and Marve entered the game for Purdue’s next possession.
Purdue went three-and-out, and Notre Dame quickly took advantage. Catching Purdue in a blitz, Wood broke into the secondary and ran 55 yards to give the Irish a 21-0 lead with 9:06 left in the second quarter.
Purdue finally got on the board when Carson Wiggs made a 27-yard field goal with 3:39 left in the second quarter to trim Notre Dame’s lead to 21-3.
Marve didn’t fare as well as TerBush statistically, but he moved the team more effectively and earned the start in the second half.
Before he even got on the field, though, Notre Dame scored again. Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame’s improving tight end who had just one catch in the first half, caught a 6-yard touchdown pass from Rees to make it 28-3. Later in the quarter, Jones caught an 11-yard pass from Rees to push the lead to 35-3.
Purdue finally got into the end zone late in the game. TerBush finished a 95-yard drive with a 13-yard touchdown pass to Antavian Edison with 21 seconds remaining.
Notre Dame’s defense was as impressive as its offense. Purdue entered the game ranked 11th nationally in rushing, but finished with 84 yards on 27 carries.
“We made good decisions, we ran hard and we exerted our will on the opposing team,” Kelly said.