When you look at Notre Dame’s schedule, they have four signature games. Texas (loss), Michigan St., Stanford and Miami (Fl). Even though Notre Dame easily defeated Nevada, the Ambush in Austin is still fresh in people’s mind. This puts even more importance on Saturday night’s Michigan St. game.
Michigan St. has little to no resume so far this season. Their only game was a win against FCS Furman. In their 28-13 win, the Spartan slept walked through the first half and went into the locker room with a 14-3 lead. Then Furman decided to make the game interesting for the fans. Furman cut the lead to 21-13 in the fourth quarter with the ball on Michigan St’s 44. The Spartans dodged a bullet with an interception and eventually scored another touchdown.
Despite having not played since 2013, Notre Dame knows what to expect from Dantonio and Michigan St. You’re going to get a very physical pro style offense. An offense that could give Notre Dame trouble if Michigan St. can use a successful running game to set up opportunities deep down the field.
Tyler O’Connor is a fifth year senior so don’t expect inexperienced mistakes. In the win over Furman, he was 13-18 for 190 yards. The Spartans running game was typical of a Dantonio team. LJ Scott went for 105 yards and Michigan St. as a team rushed for 171 yards.
If the Spartans expect to walk into Notre Dame Stadium and come out with a victory, their running game will have to control the clock and set up big plays in the passing game.
For Notre Dame, building upon a strong second half against Nevada is a must. Despite being up 25-0 at halftime, the Irish weren’t clicking on all cylinders. Penalties, an underthrown deep ball that resulted in an interception and Nevada’s multiple looks on offense seemed to keep Notre Dame off a step. But a big fourth and one stop and a gift safety gave the Irish enough opportunity to be up comfortably at half.
In the second half, the Irish defense continued to get stronger as the offense scored twice in the third putting the game out of reach at 39-3.
Keys to Victory
- Michigan St. running game vs Notre Dame’s Front 7 – Notre Dame’s defense only allowed 99 yards against Nevada but that comes with an asterisk. Nevada’s passing game isn’t anything to worry about and the Irish won’t have that luxury against the Spartans. Notre Dame’s tackling has been suspect in the first two games and must improve. If the Spartans back can get to the second level, it could be a long night for the Irish.
- Kizer must be Kizer – Last season, Kizer’s best games were in big moments. This is yet another opportunity to show how he is one of Notre Dame’s most clutch QB’s in recent history. Kizer had multiple TD pass games in 6 of his 11 starts and had rushing TD’s in 8 of them. The Irish will need to go deep often against the Spartans secondary to loosen up the running game.
- Limit Penalties – 8 penalties against Texas and 9 penalties against Nevada has the Irish moving in the wrong direction. Beating Michigan St. is difficult enough without helping them along. Notre Dame’s secondary will be tested so pass interference penalties will be in play with a depleted unit. Also, Notre Dame seems to have an untimely offensive pass interference call go against them at the worse moments. They will need to avoid it in this one.
Michigan St. will cover the 8.5 but the Irish will get the win.
Marcus “Mook” Washington is the host of Making The Cut. Follow Mook on Twitter: @mtcwithmook and IG: MTCWithMook