Sophomore running back Jaren Hayes' 71-yard touchdown run and Greg Taplin's 40-yard interception return for a touchdown helped Michigan State post a 22-9 lead and the defense held on to give coach John L. Smith his biggest win as the Spartan pilot.
MSU could be 4-0 if not for a last-second collapse which allowed the Lousiana Tech Bulldogs to come from behind with just :02 remaining to knock off the Spartans 20-19.
But Spartan coach John L. Smith, giddy with pride after today's upset clearly used the loss as motivation.
"Sometimes, like last last week for instance, our guys are going to get criticized a little bit, by you guys....and others," said Smith. "But doggone it you've got to continue to give those kids a chance and a pat on the back and believe in 'em and they come up and make a play. You've gotta love 'em all."
MSU's Dave Rayner started the scoring on the Spartans first possession with a 51-yard field goal.
Then Notre Dame quaterback Carlyle Holliday and MSU's Jeff Smoker traded interceptions. MSU committed their second turnover on their next possession when Hayes fumbled, giving the Irish a short field. Nick Setta cashed in with a 35-yard field goal to tie the score.
Setta added 29-yarder to give their Irish their only lead of the ball game. Rayner's 30-yarder tie it at the half.
On State's fourth possession of the third quarter, Hayes on a missed direction look burst into the secondary and took it in from 71-yards out, silencing a stunned Irish crowd to give MSU a 13-6 lead. Holliday moved the Irish offense to the MSU 11 on their best drive of the day before the Spartans stiffed and Notre Dame settled for another Setta 30-yarder to get to within 13-9.
Rayner's 31-yarder increased the Spartans lead to 16-9 setting the stage for Taplin's heroics. On a zone blitz look a confused Holliday attempted to check down to Julius Jones, only to throw it right into the arms of Taplin retreating in coverage.
With a convoy in front the big defensive end scored to give MSU a 22-9 lead after the extra point failed.
Brett Conroy replaced Holliday and on his second possession engineered a 9-play 85 yard drive, hitting Rhema McKnight for the score cutting the Spartans lead to 22-16, but Spartans backup quarterback Drew Stanton, who's gaffe last week allowed Louisiana Tech to recover an on-side kick a week ago, held on this time to preserve the Spartan win.