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Michigan State (3-0) at (22) Notre Dame (2-1)



Saturday, September 21, 3:30 p.m. (et)

The Sports Network

By Scott Haynes, Senior College Football Editor

GAME NOTES: The 22nd-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish close out a three-game run through the Big Ten, as they play host to the Michigan State Spartans this weekend at Notre Dame Stadium.

Brian Kelly's Irish are 2-1 on the young season with wins over Temple (28-6) and Purdue (31-24) sandwiched around a loss at Michigan (41-30). The Irish had to come from behind to knock off the Boilermakers, outscoring Purdue 21-7 in the fourth quarter to get back in the win column.

Mark Dantonio's Spartans are off to a 3-0 start for the first time since 2010. Michigan State has been fueled by suffocating defensive play, knocking off Western Michigan (26-13), South Florida (21-6) and most recently, Youngstown State (55-17).

The Irish hold a 47-28-1 series advantage and are 28-13 all-time in games played in South Bend. These two teams have split the last 10 meetings, but Notre Dame has won three of the last four matchups, including a 20-10 decision last season.

Michigan State's strength on offense is its ground game. The Spartans are averaging an impressive 209.7 yards rushing per game, on just under five yards per carry (4.9). It has been several contributors to the attack, with Jeremy Langford (4.5 ypc, four TDs) and Nick Hill (7.2 ypc, one TD) leading the way.

While the passing game is second in the offensive arsenal, sophomore quarterback Connor Cook (276 yards, four TDs) has played well in spots.

While the MSU offense has shown flashes of strong play, the defense has been consistently strong this season, ranking first nationally in total defense (177.0 ypg) and pass efficiency defense (68.14 rating), second in opponent's third-down conversion (.160) fourth in rush defense (50.3 ypg) and fifth in pass defense (126.7 ypg). An opportunistic bunch, the Spartans have already recorded four defensive touchdowns, after not doing so all of last year. Sophomore defensive end Shilique Calhoun has been the leader in that regard, with three defensive touchdowns to his credit thus far.

Junior safety Kurtis Drummond leads the team with 17 total tackles. He is followed by senior linebackers Max Bullough (15 stops) and Denicos Allen (15 tackles). Allen is tied with senior tackle Tyler Hoover and junior end Marcus Rush for the lead in sacks, with two each.

Despite MSU's success on defense, Dantonio sees room for improvement.

"We can always play better. I think there's not one player out there that thinks they are hitting on all cylinders, and that's a positive, because we've been successful thus far defensively."

The Irish fell behind in the first half against Purdue, but quarterback Tommy Rees brought them back with two fourth-quarter TD passes. In all, Rees completed 20-of-33 pass attempts, for 309 yards and the two scores.

Rees has led a passing attack that is netting 326.0 yards per game, as he has completed 60.7 percent of his throws thus far, for 969 yards and seven touchdowns. Wideouts T.J. Jones (19 catches, 289 yards, one TD) and DaVaris Daniels (17 catches, 299 yards, four TDs) have been a potent one-two punch downfield.

Kelly is pleased with Daniels' progress and likes what his receivers have done for the offense as a whole.

"Well, certainly it gives us another big play receiver. I think T.J. has shown his ability to be that guy, as well now you have Daniels that can certainly get down the field and make big plays. It definitely stretches the field for us. Certainly our ability now to vertically push the ball enhances what we want to do now with both of those guys."

Notre Dame's rushing attack, which was so effective in 2012, has struggled in terms of consistency in the early stages of 2013, averaging 125.0 ypg. Amir Carlisle (49.3 ypg), Cam McDaniel (41.7 ypg) and George Atkinson III (32.7 ypg) have shared the workload.

A very stingy unit in 2012, Notre Dame's defense has taken a step back in terms of production this season. The team is yielding 23.7 ppg and 372.0 ypg.

Dan Fox (24 tackles, 2.0 TFL), Jarrett Grace (20 tackles), Carlo Calabrese (18 tackles, 3.0 TFL, one fumble recovery) and Prince Shembo (10 tackles) make up a strong linebacking corps. Bennett Jackson (17 tackles, one INT) and Matthias Farley (13 tackles) are leading the way in the secondary, while All-American Stephon Tuitt (four tackles, one sack, one INT) and Louis Nix III (eight tackles) are the players to watch up front.

The Spartan defense has played lights out in the first three games, but they will be stepping up in terms of competition in South Bend. The Irish aren't lighting up the scoreboard, but should be able to do enough to earn a narrow win at home.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Notre Dame 24, Michigan State 20

09/18 10:37:49 ET

Other Stories

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  • ACC: Syracuse at NC State

    Saturday at 12:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • SEC: Florida at Kentucky

    Saturday at 2:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • Pac 12: Stanford at Arizona

    Saturday at 4:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • ACC: Duke vs. Wake Forest

    Tomorrow at 8:00 pm on 620am

  • Big Ten: Wisconsin at Minnesota

    Thursday at 7:00 pm on 99.9 The Fan

  • NBA: Dallas at Portland

    Thursday at 9:30 pm on 99.9 The Fan

Scoreboard
Local
Final
CHA 104
LAL 103
Final
GT 49
UNC 81
 
Half
CLEM 21
NCSU 20
 
Final
DET 15
BAL 2
 
Final
MIA 7
MIAFLA 1
 
Final
PHI 5
NYY 5
 
Final
BOS 2
NEASTERN 1
 
Final
TOR 7
PIT 8
 
Final
CIN 10
CLE 0
 
Final
OAK 9
SFG 4
 
Final
BOS 1
BOSTONCOLL 0
 
Final
ARI 4
ASU 0
 
Final
CLE 110
BOS 79
Final
CHA 104
LAL 103
Final
NYK 86
SAC 124
Final
ATL 104
HOU 96
 
4th
MEM 68
UTA 74
 
4th
CHI 79
WAS 67
 
2nd
DEN 40
MIL 47
 
Final
UMO 70
AKR 63
 
Final
NAVY 56
ARMY 52
 
Final
BST 60
EMICH 67
 
Final
BUT 54
GEOR 60
 
Final
IND 63
IOWA 77
 
Final
FLGC 81
JVU 63
 
Final
USCU 90
KNST 54
 
Final
BGU 80
KSU 81
 
Final
NKENTUCKY 73
LIP 76
 
Final
HC 62
GHND 45
 
Final
RUTG 50
MD 60
 
Final
GT 49
UNC 81
 
Final
BUF 93
OHIO 66
 
Final
ALA 74
MISS 82
 
Final
DAY 75
RIU 59
 
Final
CMICH 85
TOL 77
 
Final
DET 77
YOUNG 67
 
Final
UNF 81
STET 67
 
Final
ABCHRIST 83
HOUB 71
 
Final
NDAK 78
NEOM 80
 
2nd
NILL 59
WMICH 58
 
2nd
ILLCH 60
WRST 57
 
Half
MIZZ 30
AUB 30
 
1st
UGA 24
KENT 23
 
Half
NW 27
MICH 34
 
Half
CLEM 21
NCSU 20
 
Half
UF 26
TEXAM 23
 
1st
KU 22
WVU 38
 
1st
CREI 19
VILL 12
 
Final
PHI 2
CAL 3
Final
NJD 3
NAS 1
Final
CLB 3
WAS 5
 
3rd
TAM 3
BUF 0
 
3rd
FLA 2
TOR 2
 
2nd Intermission
MIN 2
OTT 2
 
2nd
DAL 0
NYI 1
 
1st Intermission
ARI 0
ANA 1
 
10:00pm Tonight
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