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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

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Local
2nd
UNC 68
OSU 53
 
4:00pm Today
MVSU
NCCU
 
7:00pm Tonight
UNCW
ECU
7:00pm Tonight
CAR
NYR
7:00pm Tonight
CHA
UTA
9:30pm Tonight
WVU
NCSU
3rd
NYK 57
PHO 56
 
7:00pm Tonight
NOP
POR
7:00pm Tonight
CHA
UTA
8:00pm Tonight
HOU
ATL
8:30pm Tonight
DAL
SAN
9:00pm Tonight
DEN
IND
10:30pm Tonight
LAC
MIL
Final
LALAF 16
NEV 3
 
1st
UTEP 0
UTST 0
 
3:30pm Today
COLST
UTAH
5:45pm Tonight
AFA
WMICH
9:15pm Tonight
BGU
SALABAMA
Final
GEOR 81
CHAR 78
 
Final
WKENT 67
LOU 76
 
Final
MICH 51
SMU 62
 
Final
CIN 47
VCU 68
 
2nd
BSU 73
ABCHRIST 32
 
2nd
PROV 55
UMASS 33
 
2nd
AMER 42
MNTER 39
 
2nd
UNC 68
OSU 53
 
2nd
IUPUI 48
SALA 38
 
2nd
VILL 41
SYR 47
 
2nd
VT 44
CITA 43
 
2nd
DUQ 65
MLOWELL 44
 
2nd
FAIR 27
BEL 32
 
1st
YALE 25
GTDNS 25
 
1st
FD 23
DEL 23
 
1st
PSU 18
DREX 14
 
1st
UNCG 12
ELON 16
 
1st
ILL 18
MIZZ 14
 
1st
CAMP 21
MONT 13
 
1st
LONG 18
PSUBEAVER 12
 
1st
HOU 18
SCST 20
 
1st
FSU 16
SFLA 12
 
1st
BING 16
BONA 19
 
1st
RUTG 31
RFLSH 21
 
1st
MCNST 25
TOL 32
 
1st
JVU 12
TRUETT 12
 
1st
GT 18
VANDY 20
 
1st
INDST 9
EILL 12
 
1st
BUT 0
IND 0
 
3:00pm Today
STEPH
ARTCH
 
3:00pm Today
OREG
DELST
 
3:00pm Today
Terriers
FATL
 
3:00pm Today
TXARL
HPYN
 
3:00pm Today
KU
LAF
3:00pm Today
ARKST
MARS
3:00pm Today
MEM
ORU
3:00pm Today
KNST
UMBC
 
3:00pm Today
NW
WMICH
3:05pm Today
MIZST
EMICH
 
3:05pm Today
CHIST
STJOE
 
3:30pm Today
KENT
UCLA
4:00pm Today
COC
DAVID
4:00pm Today
RIU
DET
4:00pm Today
UCR
HOUB
 
4:00pm Today
MURST
ILLST
 
4:00pm Today
NWST
LALAF
 
4:00pm Today
WAGN
MON
 
4:00pm Today
MVSU
NCCU
 
4:00pm Today
PITT
OU
4:00pm Today
TENNM
PBY
 
4:00pm Today
WYO
SOUTH
 
4:00pm Today
AFA
UCD
4:00pm Today
MSST
USCU
 
5:00pm Tonight
JMU
HIGH
 
5:00pm Tonight
TXST
HTILL
 
5:00pm Tonight
DRAK
ISU
5:00pm Tonight
SHU
UNH
 
5:00pm Tonight
SCU
NE
 
5:00pm Tonight
MSU
TXSOU
5:00pm Tonight
UF
WAKE
5:15pm Tonight
ND
PURD
5:30pm Tonight
SHSU
PVU
 
6:00pm Tonight
AUB
XAV
7:00pm Tonight
AKR
BLUFFTON
 
7:00pm Tonight
DAY
BU
 
7:00pm Tonight
UNCW
ECU
7:00pm Tonight
CLMB
HOF
 
7:00pm Tonight
GMAS
IONA
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TOWS
LAS
7:00pm Tonight
MAN
MRGST
 
7:00pm Tonight
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YALE
 
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RICH
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STJOE
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KYST
TEXAM
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VALPO
 
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UMKC
INCWORD
 
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IDST
CALST
 
7:30pm Tonight
NIOWA
IOWA
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SIUE
UWMIL
 
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LBSU
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TCU
TXSA
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ARK
SEMIZ
9:00pm Tonight
NCOL
JVST
 
9:00pm Tonight
ARST
LEH
 
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NMST
NMU
 
9:00pm Tonight
WASH
OKLA
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GRCN
STED
 
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WEBER
WLVRN
 
9:30pm Tonight
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NCSU
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SDST
BST
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GONZ
CPSL
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PAC
FRES
10:00pm Tonight
PORT
MNTST
 
10:00pm Tonight
CSNO
TAMCC
 
10:05pm Tonight
UTST
SDKST
 
11:00pm Tonight
BYU
STAN
11:30pm Tonight
UNLV
UTAH
4:00pm Today
LOS
ARI
7:00pm Tonight
CLB
CHI
7:00pm Tonight
BUF
COL
7:00pm Tonight
PIT
FLA
7:00pm Tonight
CAR
NYR
7:00pm Tonight
MON
OTT
7:00pm Tonight
TOR
PHI
7:00pm Tonight
NYI
TAM
7:00pm Tonight
NJD
WAS
8:00pm Tonight
MIN
NAS
10:00pm Tonight
VAN
CAL
10:30pm Tonight
SJS
STL
4:30pm Today
WAS
PHI
8:25pm Tonight
SFX
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