Rushing duo dominates first half
Jack Hefferon | Monday, September 19, 2011
After coming together for 200 yards rushing last week, the running back tandem of junior Cierre Wood and senior Jonas Gray combined for 118 yards on 18 carries and two touchdowns in the first half. The duo had five runs of at least ten yards before the break. However, the Irish managed only two rushing yards in the second half.
Irish defense smothers the run
Michigan State entered the contest with a rushing average of 175 yards per game, but Notre Dame’s defense held the Spartans to just 29 yards rushing on 23 carries. The 29 yards is the lowest running total by Michigan State against the Irish since 1987, when the Spartans ran for 21 yards in a 31-8 loss. The Spartans were only able to gain one first down on the ground in the first half, as their longest rushing play of the game was just eight yards.
Irish respond after turnovers
The Irish committed three turnovers, bringing its season total to 13. However, the defense allowed just three points from those three Michigan State possessions, despite all three occurring on Notre Dame’s half of the field. Two of those drives ended with the Irish generating turnovers of their own, as Aaron Lynch forced a fumble of quarterback Kirk Cousins on a sack and Robert Blanton recorded a key fourth-quarter interception.
For the first time since November 30, 1996, Notre Dame now has control of the Megaphone (Michigan State), Jeweled Shillelagh (USC), Ireland Trophy (Boston College) and Shillelagh (Purdue). Each trophy is awarded yearly to the winner of the respective rivalry matchup.
Notre Dame defeated Michigan State at home for the second consecutive time after losing six consecutive matchups in Notre Dame Stadium, dating back to 1997. The Irish win marked the second victory in the last three years of the series.