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Orton makes believers out of Irish

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Purdue quarterback Kyle Orton drops back to pass in the third quarter against Notre Dame in South Bend., Ind., on Saturday in the Boilermakers' win.

Purdue quarterback Kyle Orton drops back to pass in the third quarter against Notre Dame in South Bend., Ind., on Saturday in the Boilermakers’ win.

Michael Conroy, Associated Press

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Purdue's Kyle Orton accomplished something that Drew Brees, Jim Everett and Mark Hermann never did — win at Notre Dame.

Orton threw four touchdown passes, including a 97 yarder to Taylor Stubblefield, to lead the 15th-ranked Boilermakers to a 41-16 victory Saturday. It was Purdue's first win at Notre Dame Stadium since Ara Parseghian's last year as Irish coach in 1974, when the Irish were ranked No. 2.

Orton was 21-of-31 for 385 yards, third most in his career, to help the Boilermakers (4-0) end a 13-game losing streak at Notre Dame (3-2). Purdue coach Joe Tiller said it might have been Orton's best game.

"I'm not surprised by what No. 18 can do any more," Tiller said. "He does a great job and our team is following his talent."

Orton, who has 17 TD passes with no interceptions this season, was asked after the game if he thought his performance might help his Heisman Trophy chances.

"You guys keep bringing up the Heisman. I don't have a vote on that," he said.

The Irish certainly were impressed, though.

"He was unstoppable," defensive end Justin Tuck said. "A lot of people say he is the leading candidate for the Heisman Trophy. He's got my vote."

In their last three trips to Notre Dame Stadium, the Boilermakers had come close to beating the Irish but always had a key turnover that cost them. On Saturday, though, the Boilermakers, who have not lost a fumble this year, didn't turn the ball over once against a Notre Dame defense which had forced 16 turnovers in its first four games.

"I told the coach before the game that if we could get 24 points and no turnovers, we would be in good shape," Orton said. "To get 41 points showed we played outstanding today."

Tiller said he was more impressed with the win over the Irish than winning at Notre Dame Stadium.

"I'll be real honest. I don't think too much about winning in this stadium," he said.

The victory marked the first time Purdue has won a road game at a traditional powerhouse under Tiller, who is in his eighth season. The Boilermakers have lost six straight at Ohio State, they are 0-3-1 at Penn State and haven't won at Michigan since 1966.

Orton said he thought too much was made about Purdue's losing streak at Notre Dame.

"We don't go around thinking about that too much but it's nice for the fans and the program to get a win here," Orton said.

The Boilermakers also got a big play from Jerome Brooks, who returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown right after Notre Dame had tied the score at 3-3.

Purdue's defense stepped up midway through the second quarter, when Notre Dame had a second-and-goal from the 2. Defensive end Anthony Spencer stripped the ball at the 1 and defensive tackle Brent Grover recovered.

But it was Orton who really hurt the Irish. After the defensive stand by Purdue, Orton drove the Boilermakers 97 yards for a touchdown, taking a 20-3 halftime lead.

On the drive, running back Brandon Jones threw a 28-yard pass to Ray Williams, who was wide open, at the 2. Orton then threw a 2-yard TD pass to defensive end Rob Ninkovich.

The Boilermakers went ahead 27-3 on their first possession of the second half. On third-and-10 from their own 3, Orton lofted a pass up the right sideline, just beyond the reach of cornerback Dwight Ellick. Stubblefield caught the ball in full stride at the 25 and was all alone. He began celebrating at midfield, repeatedly pumping his left arm, and was called for unsportsmanlike conduct for excessive celebrating.

He finished the TD by striking a Heisman pose, "for Kyle," he said.

"He looked at me like, whatever, and gave me a smile," said Stubblefield, who finished with seven receptions for 181 yards.

Brady Quinn was 26-of-46 for a career-high 432 yards, the most yards ever at Notre Dame Stadium and the second most in Notre Dame history. Joe Theismann passed for 576 yards at Southern California in 1970.

Quinn threw a 40-yard TD pass to Rhema McKnight in the third quarter. Rashon Powers-Neal added a 1-yard TD run for the Irish. Anthony Fasano caught eight passes for 155 yards, the most yards ever by a Notre Dame tight end.

Orton said he's not worried about losing focus as Heisman talk escalates.

"It feels the same as if I were a nobody," he said. "It's no added pressure."