I'm conflicted in this game. I think, like all Irish fans, I'm just not sure what to expect out of Notre Dame on Saturday. What appeared to be a team destined to greatness has instead stumbled out of the gate and looked, frankly, mediocre, even in their win against Penn State.
This is the same team, however. Notre Dame still has the same coaching staff. But I think the lingering effects have planted seeds. Not just lingering effects of Michigan, but of Ohio State and Georgia Tech as well.
Where is that Notre Dame that came out and dominated on offense from the first drive?
Well, the Irish are going to have to find that team and bring it along to East Lansing to have a chance to win this game.
Michigan State matches up well against Notre Dame.
The Irish have struggled against the run……Michigan State is ranked No. 5 in rushing averaging 258 yards per game.
Notre Dame struggles against running quarterbacks…..Spartan quarterback Drew Stanton rushed for 105 yards and a touchdown just last week.
The Irish can usually throttle one great receiver (Calvin Johnson in the second half of the Georgia Tech game), but struggle against multiple good receivers…..Michigan State can run five solid receivers out on the field at any time.
Yet we can't forget that the Irish have some pretty good players as well.
The Irish still have a Heisman caliber quarterback, even if he didn't play that way in his last game. And here's the key. The kid will absolutely pick you apart if you can't pressure him.
Can the Spartan defense pressure Quinn? Michigan State has just five sacks on the year, and recorded just one against Pitt last week….the only team they've played this season worth mentioning.
Michigan State will score points on offense and probably more than any want to see put up on the board. But I also believe the Irish can score points on this Michigan State defense. Will it be enough?
One has to believe that Brady Quinn will come out of his funk and have a big game. Those drops we've seen by All-American caliber receivers Jeff Samardzija and Rhema McKnight? Sooner or later they've got to play well.
The offensive line? While they've never dominated up front, they have played much more consistently in the past. Saturday would be a good time to start doing that again.
Once again it comes down to which team wants it more? We never have to question how much Michigan State wants this game. They've wanted it more in seven of the last nine games. Can the Irish match the intensity? I think they'll want this game, but it's time for some vocal leaders to step up and take this thing by the horns.
Notre Dame has to get up early and put some pressure on Michigan State.
Mike Frank Prediction
The Irish come out firing on offense but this is a very, very close game.
Notre Dame 35 Michigan State 31
Michigan State Prediction
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