It's Friday again, and that means it's time for the ISD staff game predictions. The Irish are coming off a hard-fought win against Purdue, while Michigan State is fresh off their best performance of the season. Many expect this to be a very low scoring game. Will the Irish come out on top?
Like the Michigan game, I just don't feel very good about this game. My main concern is that Notre Dame hasn't played up to their potential thus far, but there's no better time then the present. My second concern is how healthy the Irish will be in this game. This battle always comes down to "want to," and the previous two seasons the Irish wanted it more than the Spartans. Will they this year as well?
Notre Dame clearly has the better playmakers on offense, but MSU has the better defense.
I do expect to see a different Irish team on Saturday. The defense will still not be what many expected them to be, but I do think they play better. And I think Notre Dame's offense comes to play. I don't expect a lot of points, but I do expect Notre Dame to score enough to win. Turnovers will be the key in this game, and I'll go with the veteran quarterback over an inexperienced one. However, Notre Dame has a habit of making any QB look like a Heisman Hopeful. Still, the Irish will gut one out in Notre Dame Stadium.
Notre Dame 24, Michigan State 21
In their most impressive victory of the season to date, the Irish erase the negative feelings from a loss at Michigan and a sloppy win at Purdue. Notre Dame starts with a quick touchdown drive, capped with a touchdown toss from Tommy Rees to DaVaris Daniels. The Irish defense helps set the early tone with a dominating first quarter. The Spartans' offense is never able to establish rhythm and is forced into multiple third-and-long situations. The Irish take a 14-3 into halftime after a touchdown dash from Amir Carlise.
Notre Dame takes a commanding lead early in the third quarter on a touchdown plunge from Greg Bryant. The Spartans cut into the lead and actually pull within one score, 21-13, heading into the final quarter, but a long, time-consuming drive in the fourth quarter is capped with another Carlisle score and puts the game out of reach. Freshman cornerback Cole Luke seals it for good with his first career interception on the next possession.
Notre Dame 28, Michigan State 13
I’ve been saying all week that this game is more about whether or not Notre Dame can get better in three areas - running the football, rushing the passer, covering the pass – than it is about Michigan State. Sure, the Spartans have a very good defense and the game will be as physical as any game the Irish play in all year, but if Notre Dame doesn’t improve in those three area they’ll get beat.
Michigan State’s offense has struggled to generate points against worthy opponents and they’re playing a young quarterback. If the Irish can pressure and contain him that trend should continue Saturday afternoon. However, if they allow Connor Cook to make plays with his feet or sit in the pocket all day and throw, the chances of the Spartan offense being shut down decreases greatly.
On offense, it would seem Notre Dame has a tough opponent to right the ship as far as the running game is concerned and I’m not sure if they’ll be able to completely fix what was wrong last week against Purdue. If they were playing Savannah State I’d say no problem, but they’re not and I believe Notre Dame will rush for right around 100 yards while averaging just under four yards a carry. Still, I think Tommy Rees does enough through the air for the offense to produce enough points to beat the Spartans in Notre Dame Stadium.
Notre Dame 17, Michigan State 14
The bad news for Notre Dame this week is Michigan State comes to town with the No. 1 ranked defense in the nation. The good news is the Spartan offense is not much to speak of. The Spartans are allowing just 12 points a game this season, but their 34 point offensive average is a bit deceiving. MSU scored 26 and 21 respective points against Western Michigan and South Florida before gorging to the tune of 55 points against FCS opponent Youngstown State last week.
Beating Michigan State is not going to be easy, but the Irish will find a way to get it done. The Spartans have not seen anything like Irish playmakers DaVaris Daniels, T.J. Jones and even Chris Brown this year. Throw in a tight end like Troy Niklas, and even a very good defense like MSU's will have trouble covering everyone.
Purdue made the mistake of loading the box and daring Tommy Rees to throw deep last week and he made them pay with his 82-yard bomb to Daniels. The Spartans will play physically, but the Irish are up to the task. Rees may not top 300 yards for a fourth consecutive week, but he will keep the Irish in the game and Notre Dame's defense will finally make a statement this week against Connor Cook and the Spartan offense.
Notre Dame 19, Michigan State 13