The Skinny: Michigan State University Spartans (M.S.U.) (2-0) vs. Notre Dame University Fighting Irish (N.D.) (2-0)
Saturday September 15, 2012 at Spartan Stadium, E. Lansing, MI
T.V.: ABC Network at 8:00p.m.
Last week: M.S.U. vs. Central Michigan University (C.M.U.): 41-7 Spartan victory. N.D. vs. Purdue Boilermakers: 20-17 Irish victory.
If you love college football for its pageantry and nostalgia then the M.S.U. vs. N.D. matchup this Saturday is for you. The two schools share a rich history of big games and memorable moments. From “the game of the century” in the fall of 66”, to the “Little Giants” play in 2010, the Spartan vs. Irish battle always pleases both the die-hard fan and casual viewer alike. This Saturdays contest won’t be any different.
Like the 66” defense, this Big Green unit is getting national recognition for its tenacious play. Currently ranked 8th in the nation, the D has yet to give up a touchdown. What may be even scarier for the Irish is the Spartans defensive leader DE William Gholston, isn’t satisfied. “Until it says zero, zero, zero, zero and the score is zero; there is a lot we can improve on”, Gholston said after last Saturday’s 41-7 victory over C.M.U. Given Notre Dame’s inability to run the ball and protect their QB against an above average Purdue defense last week, M.S.U. has an excellent chance of reaching Gholston’s lofty goals. (Full disclosure: Both C.M.U. and Boise State scored defensive touchdowns against M.S.U.).
What to expect:
Sparty D vs. Irish Offense: Notre Dame gave up five sacks and only rushed for 52 total net yards last week. M.S.U. has one of the best defenses in the nation. This doesn’t look good for the Irish. That said, Notre Dame is going to stick with redshirt freshman QB Everett Golson to run the offense. Golson is an excellent duel threat QB, as he had a number of runs over five yards and also threw four completions for over 20 yards last Saturday. Given Brian Kelly’s offensive strategy and Golson’s talents, expect the Irish to try and get the running game going with the return of star RB Cierre Wood and RB Theo Riddick, who ran for 53 yards against Purdue. From there the Irish will use play action pass to hit their favorite targets; tight end (TE) Tyler Eifert, wide receiver Davaris Daniels and both Wood and Riddick out of the backfield. Due to Golson’s ability to run, the M.S.U. linebackers will need to stay up front and this will allow Eifert to get open between the front seven and the secondary.
Irish D vs. Sparty Offense: M.S.U. faces their toughest defense to date. However, like their games against Boise State and C.M.U., Michigan State should be able to control the line of scrimmage. Given new QB Andrew Maxwell is yet unproven, N.D. will stack eight or nine in the front to stuff the run. This strategy may quickly backfire however, as the weakest and least experienced part of the Irish defense is their secondary. If Maxwell can hit his receiving corps of Keith Mumphrey, Bennie Fowler, Tony Lippett and TE Dion Sims in man on man coverage, it’s going to be a long day for Notre Dame. Once Maxell gets going, it will be Le’Veon Bell time, as he looks to build his Heisman case on national T.V. again. Just as in the Boise State game, the only thing that can stop Michigan State is themselves.
Special Teams: N.D.’s starting kicker Nick Tousch may not be back after suffering a groin injury before the Purdue game. Sophmore Kyle Brindza came off the bench and was 2/3 in field goal tries. He missed his initial try of 40 yards. M.S.U.’s place kicker Dan Conroy has had a few misfires this season too. Thankfully for Conroy, this game will not come down to a field goal.
Under Review: The Irish were horrible last year keeping the football. They turned it over a whopping 19 times! This year, things look better early, but Golson did fumble twice last week and his 4th quarter fumble set up what was at the time, the game tying Boilermaker touchdown.
The Dr’s Prediction: N.D. is getting better under 3rd year coach Brian Kelly, but they will simply be outmatched on both sides of the line this Saturday. Notre Dame ambushed M.S.U. last year with a sound 31-13 beating at South Bend; M.S.U. will have no problem returning the favor. The Vegas boys say six is the magic number, I say take the points and run like Le’Veon to your nearest ATM.
Sparty: 23 Irish: 6
Next Blog: M.S.U. vs. N.D. Review, Sunday, September 16, 2012
About the Author
Written by Andre' Wiegand
A life long Michigan State University Spartan fan! My grandfather played on the Spartan O-Line back in 1951 and my family has been Spartan fans since. 1999 M.S.U. graduate (JMC). Currently live in Grand Rapids, MI with my wife and two sons.