SOUTH BEND - Notre Dame's win over Purdue Saturday left more questions than answers.
Irish quarterback Tommy Rees relieved Everett Golson on Notre Dame's final offensive drive. Rees rallied the troops on a 55-yard, 12-play march that set up Kyle Brindza to connect on a 27-yard field goal with seven seconds left that allowed the Irish (2-0) to pull out a 20-17 victory over the Boilermakers (1-1).
Golson's fumble on the Irish 15-yard line set the Boilers up for a game-tying pass from TerBush to Antavian Edison.
Tackling problems on the Notre Dame defense were evident on Purdue's last drive of the third quarter. Three short passes by Robert Marve gained 60 yards, setting the table for Sam McCartney to boot a 30-yard field goal to cut the Irish lead to 17-10.
Two plays after taking a 14-7 lead, Bennett Jackson picked off a Caleb TerBush pass and Notre Dame converted it into a 30-yard field goal and 17-7 advantage.
A defensive three-and-out and a 65-yard march that ended in a three-yard scoring pass to TJ Jones put the Irish up 14-7. Two connections for 47 yards to tight end Tyler Eifert made the drive work.
A sluggish first half did little to establish any sort of momentum for either team. The 7-7 deadlock spoke to the frustration both offenses experienced.
Notre Dame moved the ball, put up some respectable passing numbers (11 of 15, 189 yards), but couldn't translate the production into points.
The only first-quarter bid was a 40-yard Kyle Brindza field goal that sailed wide left.
Notre Dame finally scored on a three-yard run by Golson 3:45 before intermission. The TD was set up by a 30-yard connection to tight end Troy Niklas and a 41-yard hookup with DaVaris Daniels after the Boilermaker secondary blew its coverage.
Purdue mounted its scoring drive with time winding down. Robert Marve, replacing starting quarterback Caleb TerBush, had an 11-yard first-down scramble to get the ball in Irish territory.
On fourth-and-4 from the Notre Dame 41, Marve rolled left under pressure then lobbed a duck into traffic that tight end Crosby Wright caught for an 11-yard gain and a first down. O.J. Ross caught a 16-yard pass to the Irish 14. Six plays later, Marve hit Antavian Edison for the two-yard tying score.