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Matchups: Irish offense vs. Spartans defense

Joe Meixell | Thursday, September 17, 2009

NOTRE DAME PASSINGMichigan proved to be a tougher test for the Irish passing game, but only by a little. Jimmy Clausen had another spectacular performance in front of a hostile crowd of over 110,000, throwing for 336 yards and three touchdowns.The offensive line did not allow a sack for the second straight game, and while Michigan was able to bring pressure at times, Clausen looked very calm moving around in the pocket and getting rid of the ball when he had to.Michael Floyd is still yet to be contained this season, as he torched the Wolverines for 131 yards and a score before receiving 15 stitches in his knee. Floyd is expected to be fine to play the entire game against the Spartans Saturday. Dan LeFevour torched the Michigan State secondary in Central Michigan’s upset, racking up 328 yards and three touchdowns. The Spartan secondary is deep, but should be outmatched by Notre Dame’s talent and size.EDGE: NOTRE DAME

NOTRE DAME RUSHINGNotre Dame’s running attack looked as good as it has during the Weis era against Michigan. The Irish were able to convert on third down and short, a feat that has been a struggle throughout the past two years.Armando Allen has averaged 5.9 yards per carry through two games and looks to have matured as a runner. Jonas Gray had a costly fumble in Ann Arbor but will have to quickly forget the mistake against Michigan State.The Spartans allowed just 66 yards rushing against the Chippewas on 29 carries, including containing LeFevour’s scrambling ability. The Spartan linebackers are some of the best in the nation, led by Greg Jones, the Big Ten preseason defensive player of the year. Michigan State’s defensive line is very athletic and probably the deepest front Notre Dame will face all season. Senior Trevor Anderson had eight sacks last year and is off to a strong start in 2009.EDGE: EVEN

NOTRE DAME SPECIAL TEAMSDespite a missed field goal in the ‘Big House’, Nick Tausch bounced back with two makes and should be confident back at home. Eric Maust was shaky at Michigan and needs to improve his consistency.Barry Gallup had a great performance in the kickoff return game, almost breaking one return against the Wolverines, and should be effective when paired with Theo Riddick. The Irish are yet to have a punt return worth noting. EDGE: EVEN

NOTRE DAME OFFENSIVE COACHINGCharlie Weis kept Michigan off guard for nearly the entire game, and was able to establish the run game for one of the few times in his career. The statue of liberty play on the two point conversion was a great indicator of Weis’ creative ability and a great call. With weapons like Floyd, Tate and Rudolph, Weis can use the pass to set up the run. Dantonio has stifled the Irish in his two games against them, but faces a much more mature and talented team.EDGE: NOTRE DAME