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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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    Tonight at 11:35 on WRAL-TV

  • ACC: NC State at UNC

    Tomorrow at 12:58 pm on WRAL-TV

  • SEC: Mississippi State at Ole Miss

    Tomorrow at 3:30 pm on WRAL-TV

  • NFL: San Diego at Baltimore

    Sunday at 1:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • CFB: NC State at UNC

    Tomorrow at 12:30 pm on WRAL-FM

Scoreboard
Local
Final
NCCU 65
EILL 40
Final
NCSU 60
BSU 54
Final
PIT 2
CAR 4
Final
CHA 101
GSW 106
Final
UF 64
UNC 75
 
3rd
TULSA 17
ECU 21
 
Final
BOS 102
CHI 109
Final
CHA 101
GSW 106
Final
TOR 102
DAL 106
 
Final
DET 88
MIL 104
 
Final
ATL 100
NOP 91
 
Final
HOU 85
LAC 102
 
Final
OKC 105
NYK 78
 
Final
IND 98
ORL 83
 
4th
SAN 107
SAC 94
 
3rd
DEN 85
PHO 59
 
2nd
POR 30
MEM 30
 
1st
LAL 0
MIN 0
 
Final
WMICH 21
NILL 31
Final
SMU 9
HOU 35
Final
IOWA 34
NEB 37
Final
SFLA 0
UCF 16
Final
MARS 66
WKENT 67
Final
KSU 27
AKR 24
Final
BGU 24
BST 41
Final
UMASS 21
BUF 41
Final
EMICH 16
TOL 52
Final
MIZZ 21
ARK 14
Final
SALABAMA 40
NAVY 42
Final
ARZ 42
ARST 35
Final
AFA 27
COLST 24
Final
UCLA 10
STAN 31
3rd
VT 10
UVA 13
 
3rd
TULSA 17
ECU 21
 
Final
NCCU 65
EILL 40
Final
KU 82
TENN 67
Final
TEXAM 87
NO 65
 
Final
NCAT 57
RAD 65
 
Final
GEOR 58
BUT 64
Final
BRO 81
PVU 71
Final
RIU 66
SCU 44
Final
NARZ 70
SOUTH 63
Final
DART 68
MAST 67
Final
WRST 59
FIU 61
Final
XAV 73
UTEP 77
Final
OSU 73
JMU 56
Final
TXSOU 71
LAM 59
 
Final
TAMCC 75
MVSU 66
 
Final
AKAN 51
MIZST 55
Final
BUCK 80
PSU 88
 
Final
PROV 72
YALE 66
Final
UGA 62
MINN 66
Final
WISC 69
OKLA 56
Final
Terriers 70
NORST 72
 
Final
PEAY 62
STEPH 83
Final
FSU 58
CSOU 47
 
Final
VALPO 66
DRAK 46
Final
CIN 69
MTST 51
Final
SDU 75
PRIN 65
Final
WASU 76
RICE 74
Final
CSFU 64
USCU 79
Final
GT 61
RIDE 54
 
Final
TXPA 79
ALAST 91
Final
NCSU 60
BSU 54
Final
TCU 57
BRAD 49
 
Final
WAKE 65
DELST 72
 
Final
HART 83
EMERSON 50
 
Final
STJ 66
GONZ 73
 
Final
CLEM 62
HIGH 59
 
Final
SYR 72
HC 48
 
Final
MD 61
MON 56
Final
JVST 74
SAV 71
 
Final
MIAMI 87
SALA 75
Final
RUTG 68
VANDY 65
 
Final
PETE 66
TENST 58
 
Final
MARS 59
CLST 68
 
Final
JST 56
HOF 86
 
Final
INDST 62
MEM 72
 
Final
UF 64
UNC 75
 
Final
LATU 77
SAMF 64
 
Final
TULA 71
SELA 61
 
Final
NEB 75
TENNM 64
 
Final
MISS 75
CREI 68
 
Final
PORT 64
MURST 61
 
2nd
MARQ 49
MSU 65
 
2nd
ARK 67
UNT 58
 
2nd
NCOL 72
STET 55
 
2nd
IND 69
UNCG 59
 
2nd
SJST 47
WMICH 72
 
2nd
MNTST 84
TXARL 61
 
2nd
UVA 37
LAS 21
 
Half
STLU 27
MSST 37
 
2nd
COLST 43
PAC 26
 
1st
UTAH 26
NDAK 15
 
10:30pm Tonight
ILL
BAY
10:30pm Tonight
UAB
UCLA
11:30pm Tonight
WASH
LBSU
11:59pm Tonight
UCSB
MERC
Final
PHI 0
NYR 3
Final
ANA 1
CHI 4
Final
WAS 5
NYI 2
Final
PIT 2
CAR 4
Final
NJD 4
DET 5
 
Final
BUF 2
MON 1
 
Final
CLB 0
VAN 5
 
Final
BOS 2
WIN 1
 
Final
FLA 3
OTT 2
 
1st OT
STL 3
EDM 3
 
3rd
DAL 3
MIN 3