Michigan State under Mark Dantonio head to South Bend to take on the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. Under Dantonio the Spartans are 3-4 against the Irish and 1-3 against Brian Kelly teams in South Bend.
The Irish will enter the game ranked 18-th in the AP Top 25 and Amway Coaches Poll while the Spartans come in ranked 12-th in the AP Poll and 8-th in the Coaches Poll.
Having watched the Irish against Texas and Nevada, Spartan Digest gives you five thoughts about what the Spartans will face next Saturday night.
IRISH SUFFER MAJOR LOSS IN SECONDARY
Notre Dame loss cornerback Shaun Crawford to another season ending injury against Nevada. The Ohio native missed last season with a torn ACL and on Saturday tore his Achilles. This is a major loss for the Irish as Crawford came up big against Texas and was expected to play a major role in the Irish secondary. After two games he’s the only member of the Irish defense with an interception.
With Crawford out, Notre Dame will call upon a name Spartan fans should remember in Nick Coleman.
Coleman picked the Irish over the Spartans when he came out of Kettering (Ohio) Alter high school. It has been an up and down season so far for Coleman as the Irish placed Coleman on the bench during their loss to Texas. However, against Nevada he played well enough to earn praise from Kelly and after two games he’s tied for fourth on the team in tackles with nine total. Look for the Spartans to take some chances against Coleman as right now he looks like their weakest link.
The Irish do have a player to watch in senior corner Cole Luke who has 18 career passes broken up.
DeSHONE KIZER HAS WEAPONS
Junior quarterback DeShone Kizer stepped forward claiming the starting quarterback spot during the team’s loss to Texas. In two games this season Kizer has thrown seven touchdowns and only one interception while connecting on over 71-percent of his throws. One reason Kizer has been so good is the play of his receivers as five different receivers have already scored at least one touchdown this season led by Equanimeous St. Brown with 11 catches for 160 yards and two scores. Right behind him is C.J. Sanders with eight receptions for 101 yards and two scores. Torii Hunter Jr. missed the Nevada game with concussion issues but is expected back to practice this week.
Running the ball Kizer has three guys he can look towards in Josh Adams (149 yards – 7.1 avg.), Tarean Folston (115 yards – 4.1 avg.) and Dexter Williams who may have only eight carries but averaged 7.4 yards per carry.
SANDERS A THREAT EVERY TIME HE TOUCHES THE BALL
C.J. Sanders may only stand 5-foot-8, 185-pounds, but the California native is dynamic with the ball in his hands. As we already talked about Sanders is second in receiving yards and has already scored two touchdowns receiving. However, his ability to change field position on special teams makes him a player the Spartans must contain.
Over the past few seasons the Spartans have seen their share of issues on special teams and Sanders could cause problems on Saturday. So far he’s posted a combined 187 yards in punt returns and kick returns. Each time Sanders gets the ball in his hands on special teams he averages just over 23-yards.
IRISH LIKE MIDDLE OF THE GAME
So far this season the Irish have enjoyed their most success putting points on the scoreboard in the second and third quarters. Out of their 86 total points scored, 60 of them have come in these two quarters. For the Spartans to have success they must keep the Irish contained in all four quarters especially the second and third quarters as they score just under 70-percent of their points during this part of the game.
HOW GOOD IS THE IRISH DEFENSE?
When you look at the overall picture on how the Irish have played defensively this season you see they’ve given up some big numbers outside of the scoreboard. So far the Irish are giving up an average of 408.5 yards per game. Opponents have scored six rushing touchdowns but only two in the air and the Irish have given up six first down from penalties. Their defensive front at times can be special with Isaac Rochell and Daniel Cage while Nyles Morgan and James Onwualu provide solid play at linebacker.null