Just the Facts

A look at the Notre Dame/Michigan State series…by the numbers.

Regular season Game 3 of 12 matches the Irish vs. their fourth most frequent rival, Michigan State. Saturday's contest will be the first road game for the Irish, who have dropped seven of their last 10 away from South Bend, though new head coach Brian Kelly has prevailed in 9 consecutive road contests.

Notre Dame leads the all-time series between the teams, 45-27-1 with the Irish holding a 14-11 edge over the last 25 contests. State has prevailed in 9 of the last 13 dating back to 1997.

1 – Career touchdown pass thrown by Irish running back Armando Allen, whose 5-yard Wildcat throw to Robby Parris gave the Irish a 23-17 lead early in the 3rd Quarter last season. Allen has accounted for at least one touchdown as a runner, receiver, passer and kick returner in his career. Should Allen return a punt for a touchdown this season, he would become the first player in modern program history (1919) to complete that specific quintet of scoring options. Allen has a season-long punt return of 38 yards through two contests this year.

2 – National ranking of Michigan State middle linebacker Greg Jones in career tackles entering Saturday's contest. Jones has 379 career stops including 37.5 for lost yardage, good for fifth on the program's all-time list. Jones has compiled 21 tackles in three games vs. the Irish including 18 over the last two matchups.

3 – Wins by the Irish in the decade past during five trips to East Lansing. While the Spartans have won 9 of last 13 in the series, most of their damage occurred in South Bend where Michigan State holds an inexplicable 6-1 edge over the Irish since Lou Holtz left campus. With the exception of a 23-7 Spartans win over the Irish in '08, the past decade's games in Big 10 country featured instant classics between the teams, with four remaining matchups decided by a total of 20 points. Three victories ('00, '02, and '06) were not finalized until the games' final minute.

4 – Victories by the Irish over a ranked Spartans team in the last 50 years. Notre Dame has encountered a ranked Michigan State squad on just 10 such occasions in that span, prevailing in 1969, 1979, 1987 and 1990. The '87 and '90 Spartans placed in the final A.P. Poll, with the '87 squad finishing a decade-best No. 8 overall and the '90 team landing at No. 16.

5 – Consecutive games won by the Spartans over the Irish from 1997 through 2001. Michigan State employed two head coaches during the streak (Nick Saban and Bobby Williams) while the Irish were led by Bob Davie in each defeat. Davie finished 0-5 vs. the Spartans though his predecessors: Lou Holtz (8-1), Gerry Faust (4-1), Dan Devine (5-0) and Ara Parseghian (8-2-1) each enjoyed great success vs. the traditional rival. Since Davie, Tyrone Willingham (2-1) and Charlie Weis (2-3) combined to battle three Spartans coaches (Williams, John L. Smith and Mark Dantonio) to a draw.

6 – Wins by the Spartans over a ranked Irish team over the last 25 seasons. (1986, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2005). Notre Dame finished just three of those seasons ranked in the A.P. Poll ('98, '00, and '05) while Michigan State never appeared in the final A.P. Poll following any of those early season victories over Notre Dame.

7 – Contests in Manti Te'o's career in which he's recorded at least 8 tackles, including both games this season. Te'o has made 11 career starts and has 79 total tackles over his last 10 games. He has 22 total stops this year to tie for 20th nationally over the first two weeks.

8 – Contests between the teams over the last 10 seasons decided by seven points or less. Only the 2007 and 2008 matchups (both won handily by the Spartans) failed to live up to the price of admission.

9 – National rank of the Michigan State rush defense after two contests. The MSU linebacker trio of Jones (20), Eric Gordon (19) and Chris Norton (18) totaled an aggregate 57 stops vs. Western Michigan and Florida Atlantic to open the season. Jones and Gordon combined for 17 tackles (1 for loss) a half-sack and interception last season. Gordon was part of a sack effort vs. Jimmy Clausen that resulted in a toe injury that hampered him through the course of the season.

10 – Punts forced the Irish defense last Saturday vs. Michigan, marking the highest total since November 2002, a 42-0 Senior Day win over Rutgers. Notre Dame allowed 350 more yards of total offense this past Saturday than it did vs. the Scarlet Knights eight seasons prior.

11 – Wins by Notre Dame in its last 20 regular season contests under the lights. Two of the 11 wins occurred vs. the Spartans (2004 and 2006). The Irish have dropped six of their last nine regular season evening matchups after winning five straight to kick-off the Charlie Weis era.

12 – Irish quarterbacks over the last 35 meetings to prevail in their first career start vs. the Spartans: Brady Quinn, Carlyle Holiday, Ron Powlus, Kevin McDougal, Rick Mirer, Tony Rice, Terry Andrysiak, Steve Beuerlein, Blair Kiel, Mike Courey, Rusty Lisch and Rick Slager.

Joe Montana, Jarious Jackson, Matt Lovecchio, Carlyle Holiday and Jimmy Clausen suffered losses in their first bouts with Sparty over the same span. Dayne Crist will make his first appearance vs. MSU Saturday evening.

Bonus Stat: 0 – Penalties committed by the Irish defense this season. The Irish were flagged for 12-men on the field during Saturday's final defensive series vs. Michigan but the penalty was offset by an illegal block whistled against the Wolverines.

On the Horizon

Irish players that could reasonably accomplish statistical milestones Saturday vs. the Spartans:

Armando Allen: With 5 receiving yards, will pass Nick Eddy (1964-66) for sixth-place on the program's list for receiving yards by a running back. With six receptions, Allen could move past Darius Walker into first-place on the program's list for receptions by a running back. Walker caught 109 passes in 36 games/three seasons (2004-06); Saturday would be Allen's 36th career contest.

Kyle Rudolph: With 14 receiving yards, will pass Dean Masztak for 4th place on the program's list for receiving yards by a tight end. Rudolph moved into 4th place in terms of the position's career receptions last with his career-best eight grabs Saturday vs. Michigan.

Michael Floyd: Needs two touchdowns to tie Maurice Stovall (2002-05) for sixth on the program's career TD receptions list. At 18 receiving scores, Stovall is one TD catch behind Tom Gatewood (1969-71) for 5th place. Floyd has yet to secure a touchdown reception this season. The two-game drought ties the longest of his Irish career.

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