How will Notre Dame respond to coming off a loss and being on the road for the first time this season under new head coach Brian Kelly?
Coming off a hard loss and hitting the road for the first time are things Brian Kelly will have to manage this week. The loss to Michigan was a hard one and now the Irish will need to put that game behind them and be focused for a game in a hostile environment. How the team responds to both are key if the Irish are to come back to South Bend with a victory.
Can the Irish offensive front control the line of scrimmage against a Michigan State defense that likes to blitz and stop the run?
The Spartans have one of the top linebacker groups in the country. While there base defensive scheme is the 4-3, they have also thrown in the 3-4 this season. So far this season the Spartans have not shown the ability to apply pressure as they have recorded only three sacks. However, they have done a solid job in controlling the run giving up only 130 rushing yards (2.0 average) in their first two games.
Can the Irish defense keep Michigan State's running attack in check?
The Spartans are a power running team that has rushed for 522 yards so far this season behind sophomore Edwin Baker (302 yards – 9.4 average – 3 touchdowns), and true freshman Le'Veon Bell (204 yards – 9.5 average – 3 touchdowns). Sophomore Larry Caper has yet to play this season as he's been sidelined with a cast on his hand.
Is this the week Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd has his breakout game in Brian Kelly's offense?
If there is a weakness in the Michigan State defense, it has been the play against the pass. This season the Spartans have given up 494 yards in the air as teams have gone 54-90-1 against them. This is the game Floyd should use to have his biggest day in Kelly's offense.
Can Notre Dame improve upon their Red-Zone touchdown percentage?
One area of Brian Kelly's success over the past couple of years has been his team's ability to score touchdowns when positioned in the Red-Zone. Kelly coached teams the past two seasons have scored touchdowns on 72-of-107 (67%) chances in the Red-Zone. So far this season, the Irish have scored touchdowns on only two occasions (2of-7 – 29%) when placed inside the twenty. Overall, the Irish are 5-of-7 (71%) in Red-Zone scores, while the past two seasons Kelly coached teams have gone 91-of-107 for 85%.