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Staff Predictions: Michigan State vs. Notre Dame

Observer Football Beat Writers | Wednesday, September 18, 2013

By ANDREW GASTELUM
Editor-in-Chief

Things are starting to catch up to this Irish team. The offense is like a stalling car before finally getting going after a few tries and the defense is doing just enough to keep things close from the get go.
Over the past two seasons, the Irish have straight up embarrassed the Spartans both here and up in East Lansing. But unlike Purdue, Michigan State actually has the talent to do something about it and strike back with some clout of its own. Unranked and undervalued, the Spartans are out for revenge and Notre Dame is most likely looking towards a showdown with Oklahoma next week.
The troubles start here for the Irish, and 2-2 looks pretty scary considering where they were last year at this point, coming off a major win over Michigan in week four.
FINAL SCORE: Michigan State 27, Notre Dame 24

By MATTHEW DeFRANKS
Assistant Managing Editor

 

In the next four weeks, Notre Dame will play the No. 1 defense in the country, the player who scored the first rushing touchdown on them in 2012, a defensive line that rivals their own and USC. And it all starts with a date against Michigan State this weekend.
The Spartans have had their troubles with the Irish in the past two years, losing by an average of 17.5 points per game and scoring just eight points per game. But if these past two games have taught us anything about Notre Dame, it’s that this is not last year’s team. They are not the same on defense and are mysteriously improved on offense, putting up nearly 30 points per game.
The Irish defense should return to form (somewhat) against a very questionable Spartan offense but Tommy Rees has another solid performance to lead the Irish to 3-1.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 20, Michigan State 10

 

By MIKE MONACO
Sports Editor

Notre Dame-Michigan State is always a battle. A game-winning score late in the fourth quarter or in overtime has decided eight of the last 13 meetings. Saturday will be no different. Brian Kelly said the winner will be whichever team is still standing when time expires.
Michigan State has a statistically dominant defense, but they’ve played a cupcake, a directional school and South Florida. Still, Sparty figures to match up fairly well with the Irish offense, which struggled mightily to run the ball against Purdue, averaging 2.5 yards per carry.
I give the slight edge in this contest to the Notre Dame defense, which – rough as it has looked in the first three games – goes up against a quarterback in Connor Cook playing in just his second game as the definitive starter. The Irish finally show up defensively and down the Spartans.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 24, Michigan State 17

 

By JOSEPH MONARDO
Associate Sports Editor

Michigan State will walk into Notre Dame Stadium with one of the nation’s top defenses by most measures. How much of that is a credit to the Spartans’ actual defensive abilities, and how much of it is a product of beating up on the likes of the Youngstown State Penguins, well, that remains to be seen.
Notre Dame will likely eclipse the 177.0 yards Michigan State’s opponents have managed, on average, this year, but the Irish will find the going tough against what will prove to be an impressive (although not historic) defense. What the Irish can do on defense, meanwhile, is perhaps more important. Michigan State trots out an inexperienced quarterback to lead an offense that hasn’t accomplished much so far. Special teams wins the day for the Irish.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 23, Michigan State 20

 

By JACK HEFFERON
Sports Writer

Last week, I picked the Irish by 45 points. Oops.
It seems I’ve fallen into the same trap as most of campus: thinking that returning most of last year’s team means this year will be the same. So now, all I’m looking to see is baby steps in improvement from this year’s squad.
Can one (or more) of Notre Dame’s running backs gain consistent yards in the face of one of the nation’s best defenses? And after senior captain Bennett Jackson bailed them out with a pick-six last week, can the secondary start to hold down the back end of the defense?
If the Irish improve in either of those areas, they should move to 3-1. Otherwise the Spartans, who have been un-pantsed by the Irish in the two games since Little Giants, will take it to the Irish on Saturday.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 27, Michgian State 24