Domination: Defense Overpowers Irish

Once again, the front-end of the Spartan defense wrecked havoc, leading Michigan State to a fourth straight victory. "To be honest, the D-line made our job a lot easier today, all the credit should go to them. If I had to give out a game ball, it'd definitely go top the D-line," said safety Travis Key.

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Michigan State continued its defensive resugance and became the latest foe to put a whipping on the Fighting Irish.

For the first time all season, though, Notre Dame ran the football. James Aldridge became the first Irish running back not named Darrius Walker since 2004 to rush for over 100 yards in a game. He found numerous seams behind left tackle Sam Young and even busted a career-long 43 yarder.

But the effort wasn't enough. Michigan State's defense swarmed the field once again, led, once again, by defensive end Jonal Saint-Dic. The senior finished the game with four solo tackles, one sack, two tackles-for-loss and a strip of Jimmy Clausen that made taking candy from a baby look difficult.

"We knew that the quarterback was going to set deep, deep in the pocket," Saint Dic said. "I used my speed and I saw him stumbling a little bit and I just seen the ball out and (I thought) I got a chance to really get this ball out of his hands and take it to the house."

Although that fumble recovery would not instantly turn into six, the Spartans capitalized with a 27-yard Brett Swenson field goal.

Saint-Dic wasn't the only Spartan terrorizing the Irish offense. Eric Gordon could have played the best game of his career finishing the day with 5 tackles, one sack and perhaps the biggest tackle for loss of the day along with fellow linebacker Kaleb Thornhill.

After a Spartan touchdown to open the half, the Irish went back to the ground game. They were immediately rewarded with another Aldridge scamper for 18 yards behind Young and the left side of the Irish line. Three rushes later and Notre Dame was faced with a fourth-and-one. Charlie Weis took the gamble and went for it, only to see Gordon and Thornhill bury his chances to respond to the initial Spartan score.

Another big contributor was safety Travis Key, who led the team, along with Thornhill and fellow safety Otis Wiley, with six tackles. He said the fourth down stop on the Irish's opening second half possession went a long way to cementing a Spartan victory.

"It was very important, it was very key. We knew that we had to come out and shut them down," Key said, noting the desire many Spartan's had to atone for last season's collapse. "Seniors, upperclassmen, the guys that played in that game last year, we knew that we had to come out and play with all of our heart and play tough the whole game," he said. "This win, it definitely meant a lot to us."


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