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Rapid reaction: Notre Dame 20, Michigan State 3

Matthew DeFranks | Sunday, September 16, 2012

No. 20 Notre Dame defeated a top-10 opponent in a road night game for the first time since 1983 when they topped No. 10 Michigan State 20-3 on Saturday.

The Irish (3-0) jumped out to an early 14-0 lead in the first half and held the Spartans (2-1) at bay the rest of the game. The Spartans’ three points are the fewest they have scored at home since 1991.

The good: The defense is much better than we expected. They limited potential Heisman candidate junior running back Le’Veon Bell to just 77 yards on 19 carries and held the Spartans to 237 yards of total offense. Junior linebacker Prince Shembo made a big impact and senior linebacker Manti Te’o fought off personal losses to rack up 12 tackles.

The bad: Senior tight end Tyler Eifert’s absence from the passing game is concerning for Notre Dame. On a team without a bonafide top receiver, they need Eifert each game. If Michigan State provided the blueprint for erasing the All-American, that is not good for the Irish.

What we learned: This Irish team has potential. They came into a raucous Spartan Stadium against a top-10 team and walked out winners. Sophomore quarterback Everett Golson managed the game Saturday and did not commit any turnovers. The running game showed up when the Irish needed it and the defense was dominating. For the first time since 2002 – when Notre Dame started 8-0 – the Irish are 3-0.