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Predictions: Notre Dame vs. Michigan State

| Friday, September 22, 2017

Irish junior quarterback Brandon Wimbush rolls out of the pocket during Notre Dame's 49-20 win over Boston College on Saturday. Wimbush had 207 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns on the day. Eddie Griesedieck | The Observer
Irish junior quarterback Brandon Wimbush rolls out of the pocket during Notre Dame’s 49-20 win over Boston College on Saturday. Wimbush had 207 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns on the day.

Ben Padanilam — Editor-in-Chief

Saturday’s matchup brings together two teams still figuring themselves out offensively.

For the Spartans, a win over the Irish last season might have been the only bright spot in an otherwise disastrous season. This season, the Spartans have a lot of new faces around dual-threat quarterback Brian Lewerke and tailback L.J. Scott.

The Irish, on the other hand, seem to be starting to figure out an identity, as Brian Kelly hinted that the team will continue to do what brought it success in last week’s second half: run the football.

Defense continues to be the backbone of Michigan State’s success, and the Spartan unit could pose a challenge to the new Irish look. Where the Irish might have the advantage, however, is matching up its improved defense against the Spartans offense. It should be enough to make the difference.

FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 31, Michigan State 24

Marek Mazurek — Assistant Managing Editor

Notre Dame’s matchup with Michigan State is being dubbed “the Redemption Bowl” by some. It’s an apt name as the Irish are coming off a 4-8 season and the Spartans didn’t do much better at 3-9.

Despite a 2-0 start in 2017, not many people know much about Michigan State yet as they’ve won games against non-Power-5 teams relatively comfortably.

However, the Spartans are playing at home and have a bona-fide dual-threat quarterback in Brian Lewerke.

If Brandon Wimbush struggles throwing the ball, Michigan State has enough talent up front to hold the Irish run game in check.

FINAL SCORE: Michigan State 26, Notre Dame 24

Elizabeth Greason — Sports Editor

The Irish and the Spartans had eerily similar seasons in 2016 and are looking to have the same rebound this year. They are both in the position of having a relatively young, inexperienced quarterback under center. While Brandon Wimbush has struggled to pass the ball so far this season, his strength on the run has been on display — and has been impressive. Behind one of the best offensive lines in the country, he and his running backs will continue to have the chance to make major plays.

With only two games under its belt and coming off a bye week, Michigan State has not been tested this year and has not yet had to prove itself against a top team. The Irish have had their tough test in Georgia and proved they are no longer last year’s team. Notre Dame will come out on top of what will likely be a battle of the run.

FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 28, Michigan State 20

Tobias Hoonhout — Associate Sports Editor

For the second week in a row, the Irish are hitting the road, but this time are stepping it up a notch. While the Spartans did sputter to finish 3-9 last season, Mark Dantonio’s teams always seem to play the Irish close, and heading to Spartan Stadium can be a difficult trip for any team.

This will be a big test for Wimbush and Co., who did end up handling Boston College last week, but started sluggishly and looked one-dimensional on offense. Additionally, Michigan State is coming off a bye week and should be chomping at the bit to make it two in a row against Notre Dame. A win, and the Irish will look a lot more credible. A loss, however, and it could be the start of an all-too familiar spiral.

It’ll take some grit to walk out of East Lansing with a win. But with what people inside the program have been saying, grit might be the defining feature of this team.

FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 20, Michigan State 19

Daniel O’Boyle — Sports Writer

Notre Dame and Michigan State, each coming off massively disappointing 2016 seasons, are two of the most enigmatic teams in college football going into this season.

But the Irish appear to be finding themselves after a close encounter with Georgia and a dominant second half against Boston College, while a Spartans squad that also had to replace 12 starters from last year’s team, is much less far along.

The Irish may have difficulty moving the ball against Michigan State’s stout defense, but judging by the success of the running game against the Eagles, they should have more success than the Spartans’ anemic offense.

There’s still plenty of room for surprise from both teams, especially in what’s typically such a tightly-contested affair, but the Irish should be expected to come out on top.

FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 24, Michigan State 17

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