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Predictions: Michigan State at Notre Dame

| Friday, September 16, 2016

Irish linebackers sophomore Te’von Coney, 4, and junior Nyles Morgan, 5, show blitz while Nevada senior quarterback Tyler Stewart waits for the snap last weekend.Emmet Farnan | The Observer

Irish linebackers sophomore Te’von Coney, 4, and junior Nyles Morgan, 5, show blitz while Nevada senior quarterback Tyler Stewart waits for the snap last weekend.

Alex Carson, Assistant Managing Editor

Don’t expect this to be anything but a tight game. Three of the last five have been one-score encounters, and in a game where each team really needs a win for playoff aspirations — though that’s still long down the road — count on every yard being hard-fought.

It’s tough to know what to make of these Spartans, though. His win at No. 2 Ohio State last year aside, Tyler O’Connor is still a largely unknown quantity at quarterback for Michigan State, and without a data point against an FBS opponent this year, it’s hard to speak much to the caliber of Michigan State. Just look at the line, where the Irish are favored by a decent margin, to get a pulse on that.

At the end of the day, though, defense wins these tight, hard-fought games. And Michigan State’s will be better.

FINAL SCORE: Michigan State 21, Notre Dame 17

Zach Klonsinski, Assistant Managing Editor

There’s one clear narrative for the game this weekend: It’s going to be physical.

Mark Dantonio and his program have more than earned their gritty, hard-nosed reputation, and this has the makings of a slugfest to match 2013’s 17-13 Notre Dame victory.

However, even after a dominant showing against Nevada’s power attack, I’m still wary of the Irish defense’s ability to hold the Spartan offense in check. In much the same way, although I respect the Michigan State defense, my gut tells me Notre Dame will put up more points than many expect. The over/under for this game currently sits a hair over 50 points, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the game reaches 70 and threatens 80.

For me, the winner’s a toss-up, but I’ll go with the home team.

FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 41, Michigan State 38

Marek Mazurek, Sports Editor

This is a tough game to get a read on.

I can very easily see Notre Dame showing up big in a primetime home atmosphere and beating Sparty for  the fifth time in six years.

But then I can also see Michigan State rolling over the Irish defense with a strong run game. No matter what, the Spartans are well-coached and will fight to the very end. If the weather turns sour, Michigan State gains the advantage despite the game being at Notre Dame Stadium.

At the end of the day, however, I have to go with the team that has the Heisman hopeful at quarterback. If Kizer is anything less than perfect, the Irish fall, but he’ll be on his game and the Irish win … somehow.

FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 31, Michigan State 28

Ben Padanilam, Associate Sports Editor

After watching Notre Dame’s performance in its first two games, I don’t currently feel confident in its odds against most of the top-25 teams in the country.

But Michigan State is one of those few teams that I think the Irish match up well with.

With new quarterback Tyler O’Connor, the Spartan passing game doesn’t strike fear in me. That’s not to say the Spartans haven’t proven they can win with him under center — they have — but I think it bodes well for a developing Irish secondary.

This game will be won in the trenches. And two things Notre Dame has done well thus far are protect the quarterback and run the football. I expect the Irish to do both just well enough to come out on top Saturday.

FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 24, Michigan State 20

Renee Griffin, Sports Writer

Not much has been proven about either Notre Dame or Michigan State so far this season. The Irish of the first half against Texas would have no chance against the Spartans, but the team that showed up for the second half against the Longhorns and for the last three quarters of the game against Nevada would fare much better.

Michigan State’s 28-13 win over Furman, meanwhile, hardly confirms their claim to the No. 12 spot in the AP poll. If the Irish do just enough on defense to limit the Spartans, and the offensive line opens holes for the Notre Dame running backs like it did last week, the home team will come away with the big win.

FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 21, Michigan State 20

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