Both teams came in highly rated, and both teams left that game fit to be tied.
While the games of the last decade haven't produced any ties because of the overtime rules now in place, they've provided plenty of drama for the entertaining public. While Michigan State has won seven of the last nine meetings, the last six contests have been decided by a touchdown or less.
Last year's 44-41 classic overtime thriller included a 21-point MSU lead blown to pieces by the potent offense of Notre Dame, before rallying to win in overtime.
Maurice Stovall broke out in the MSU contest last year, catching eight balls for 176 yards, while Jeff Samardzija caught three touchdown passes of his own. With Stovall's absence this season, Rhema McKnight steps into the role that Stovall vacated with a chance to participate in the game he missed last year. He leads the Irish this season in receiving, pulling in 18 catches and 243 yards.
A close game is to again be expected with both of the schools coming in with high-powered offenses. Darius Walker produced in the 2005 game, and is again having the kind of season Charlie Weis envisioned when he first came to Notre Dame. While struggling on the ground so far in 2006, the junior running back nevertheless matches McKnight's production with 18 catches on the year.
Walker has seemed to be ineffective producing the rushing yardage for the Irish, gaining only 180 yards over the first three games with 3.5 yards per carry.
Walker is a junior, with one more contest against MSU to look forward to after this one.
But the seniors face Michigan State for the last time, and they need to step up and exert the kind of leadership qualities that allowed them to rally against the Spartans last year.
Quinn racked up 487 yards passing with five touchdowns to lead the Irish from a 38-17 deficit in the third quarter. After Drew Stanton hit Matt Trannon for a 65-yard scoring strike, Quinn completed eight straight passes on the very next drive, enabling Notre Dame to close the gap to 38-24 near the end of the third quarter. Samardzija did his part for the Irish with his three scoring catches, including the game-tying touchdown with just over two minutes left in regulation. Walker pitched in with 116 yards rushing, allowing Notre Dame to keep the Spartans off balance with a consistent 4.5 yards per carry average. McKnight, who missed the opportunity to play MSU last year after getting hurt against Michigan, will also play a key part in whether this Irish class splits with the Spartans over their four-year careers. The seniors must carry this Notre Dame squad in this game, and the feeling here is that they will.