Staff Predictions: Notre Dame vs. Michigan State
Observer Sports Writers | Thursday, September 13, 2012
If last week’s contest showed Notre Dame is back to winning on off-days, this week will show the Irish aren’t yet a top-10 squad. Michigan State is, again under Mark Dantonio, a BCS-quality team with a staunch defense and an effective rushing attack. Notre Dame is a top-25 team with a great defensive front and rushing attack, and lots of weaknesses elsewhere. The game should follow that template.
Notre Dame will keep it close for a while. It’s the first opportunity the Irish have to make a statement on a national scale, and they’ll come out fired up. But the Spartans are just too complete and consistent to not beat the Irish, who still make bad mistakes at bad times. Barring a major breakout game from Golson, this one won’t be as close as the score might seem.
FINAL SCORE: Michigan State 27, Notre Dame 20
Assistant Managing Editor
Weeks three and four will tell us everything we need to know about the 2012 Irish, starting with a trip to No. 10 Michigan State, home to a hostile road environment and a Heisman Trophy-caliber running back in Le’Veon Bell. If you think Brian Kelly’s offense struggled with communication and time management at the friendly confines of Notre Dame Stadium, just wait until sophomore quarterback Everett Golson experiences Spartan Stadium’s night-game atmosphere.
The Irish will hold Bell in check for most of the game, but a couple big plays will doom a Notre Dame squad that will be desperate for points against an excellent Michigan State defense. The Irish simply aren’t ready to handle Mark Dantonio’s Rose Bowl-bound squad for a full four quarters.
FINAL SCORE: Michigan State 28, Notre Dame 17
Two years ago, the Irish traveled to East Lansing and suffered one of the more heartbreaking losses in recent program history on a fake field goal. The final score of that game was 34-31. Don’t expect nearly that many points to be scored this week. Le’Veon Bell struggled to get anything going against the Irish run defense last year, and may struggle again.
This game is going to come down to the play of two inexperienced quarterbacks – Andrew Maxwell and Everett Golson. Maxwell played well last week, but struggled with Boise State. In a low-scoring game, a big play is often what wins it, and I like Golson over Maxwell to make the big play – and avoid the big mistake. On the road, I see the Irish defense making a stop late to preserve the narrowest of victories.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 17, Michigan State 16
Associate Sports Editor
There is a little something called momentum on the Irish sidelines. It’s been gone for quite some time, and looks like a stranger on the Notre Dame sidelines. But it’s there. And this Irish team remembers what happened the last time it stepped off the field in East Lansing.
Now with both teams in the top 20, a primetime game under the lights and a chance to go 3-0, this will be a game to remember. The two teams are so even on both sides of the ball, and return solid defenses while starting new quarterbacks.
I can honestly say this game could come down to special teams and intangibles. If the Irish take advantage of their rare red-zone opportunities, they steal this one in the latest chapter of this recently-heated rivalry.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 19, Michigan State 14
Associate Sports Editor
Pulling out a win at raucous Spartan Stadium during a night game is tough. It’s tougher when it’s your first true road game of the season. It’s even tougher when the Michigan State team you are facing in ranked 10th in the nation. That is what Everett Golson is facing.
He is also facing William Gholston and the rest of the Michigan State defense that hasn’t allowed an offensive touchdown yet this season. If the Irish can contain Gholston, they have a shot at pulling out a win.
Meanwhile, the Notre Dame defense will have to contain Heisman Trophy candidate Le’Veon Bell and the physical ground-and-pound offense of the Spartans. Michigan State just needs to avoid turning the ball over and they can grind out a victory.
FINAL SCORE: Michigan State 20, Notre Dame 13