The outcome of the Notre Dame game against rival Michigan State will go down as one of the most unusual finishes for the Megaphone Trophy. We had Five Questions going into the game and now look at the answers to see how the Irish did in each.
#1. 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?
Answer #1 The first three games of the season were not easy task like many programs across the country. Coming off a game the Irish felt they could have and should have won (Michigan) they hit the road for the first time under Brian Kelly. As I've learned over the years, Kelly and his staff are all business on the road and came to East Lansing with one goal in mind, victory. Overall, this team performed good enough to win, but the gutsy call in overtime by the Spartans took away the victory. I do not expect this team to have issues coming off big games or when it travels in the future.
#2. Can the Irish offensive front control the line of scrimmage against a Michigan State defense that likes to blitz and stop the run?
Answer #2 The Irish offense played 81 total snaps giving up only one sack and another tackle for loss. There were three quarterback hurries but overall the Irish averaged 3.5 yards per rush on 26 attempts. The Spartans defense was stymied most of the night and the offensive line continues to improve each week.
#3. Can the Irish defense keep Michigan State's running attack in check?
Answer #3 No, the Spartans rushed 43 times for 203 net yards and gave running backs Le'Veon Bell and Edwin Baker touchdowns. Both backs averaged over six yards per carry on the night with Bell hitting for 114 yards and Baker for 90 yards.
#4. Is this the week Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd has his breakout game in Brian Kelly's offense?
Answer #4 Yes & No, Floyd pulled down six balls for 81 yards and two touchdowns, but what type of night would he have enjoyed if not for a few dropped balls? Everyone knows Floyd has the talent to be great and in Brian Kelly's offense, he should be pulling down even more. At times, it looks as if Floyd is just missing the little extra to take him over the top. Still, he is on pace to pull down over 60 balls before the season is over.
#5. Can Notre Dame improve upon their Red-Zone touchdown percentage?
Answer #5 Yes, the Irish used the Michigan State game to move up their Red-Zone percentages. The Irish are now 9-of-11 in red-zone scores and 5-of-11 in red-zone touchdowns. Saturday night saw the Irish go 4-of-4 in red-zone scores with 3 touchdowns and 1 field goal. This trend must continue throughout the season and is a marked improvement from where the team stood prior to the game. Red-zone scoring was at 71%, it is now at 82%, while red-zone touchdowns were at 29%, and now stand at 45%.