But Quinn regained his confidence and finished the game strong, ending up with 319 yards passing and five touchdown passes. He now has 11 on the season and 69 for his career. It's the 11th time that Quinn has had three or more touchdown passes in a game and the third time with five or more. The bounce was back in his step just in the nick of time for Notre Dame to save their season.
"Once we got into our two-minute mode, we got into a rhythm," Quinn said, who is just three starts behind Ron Powlus (43) for the all-time lead by an Irish quarterback. "We realized we could move the ball on them. We got our self-confidence back. We lost some last game and you don't get it back until you get into a game and start moving the ball."
"There were a lot of things in the first half," head coach Charlie Weis said. "He threw that interception against the blitz zone. He didn't see the defensive end dropping. He thought he could make a few other plays. In the end when it's all said and done, he's the guy who made the plays to win the game."
"Hey, that's Brady Quinn," left tackle Ryan Harris said. "He's the best quarterback in the country. We believe in him. That doesn't change. He was upbeat and positive. He wanted to make sure that we knew he believed in us and us as an offense. We really needed him tonight. I can't say enough about Brady Quinn."
*The running game was once again lacking in production. For the contest, Notre Dame totaled just 47 yards on 17 carries. Darius Walker ended the night with 11 carries for 47 yards. Now, as was the case last week, the Irish got behind early and had to throw the ball to come back. But even early on, things were not clicking on the ground.
"I abandoned the run," Weis said. "If I'm concerned with it, I'm concerned with abandoning it as a play caller. The only thing that got going in the second quarter, besides the two-minute drill, was Darius running from spread formations. I'm concerned in the first quarter when we're calling normal plays and formations, we weren't getting enough production. We'll go back to the drawing board."
*Tight end John Carlson had a career night. The senior grabbed four balls for 121 yards and a touchdown. The 121 yards bests his old career high of 98 yards, set two games ago vs. Penn State. It was the most yards by a Notre Dame tight end since Anthony Fasano had 155 back on October, 2nd, 2004 vs. Purdue. There were two highlight plays from Carlson. One was a 62-yard touchdown in the third quarter when he was wide open down the middle of the field to cut the Michigan State lead to 31-21 and the other was off a deflection, which he corralled in the fourth quarter for a big 32-yard gain that led to Jeff Samardzija's 43-yard touchdown.
"He's a big guy who can move real fast," Weis said. "They opened him up down the field. That was a big play, that long touchdown. He can run away from people. Then we got a little fortunate on the deflected one there. In a game where there are 77 points scored, there are going to be fortunate ones."
"I don't really know how I got so wide open," Carlson said about his long touchdown. "It was there and I was glad it was there. It might have been the play action."
*A dust up of sorts occurred in the second quarter that got the emotions on both teams even higher. On 1st-and-10 from their own 29-yard line, Michigan State quarterback Drew Stanton rolled left and headed towards the sidelines. Irish safety Chinedum Ndukwe hit Stanton when he was out of bounds, sending the Spartan signal caller flailing into the Notre Dame bench and drawing a personal foul call. Then, Michigan State's Matt Trannon came over and escalated the incident by pushing some Irish players. A brief tussle ensued and it even physically effected Weis.
"I got slapped some," Weis said. "I never like getting slapped. I thought it was a late hit by Nedu. I thought it was the right call by the official. I thought it was a bad idea for them to come into the bench area swinging. The referees got it right in that situation. It was a personal foul. But they deserved to be off-setting plays. The quarterback is the guy who gets hit. When somebody comes into your bench area and starts swinging, what do you think is going to happen? To be honest, I'd be disappointed if they weren't."
"There was a lot of emotion in the game," Harris said. "Everybody was playing with high emotion and both teams were real good. Anytime you have those two things, it's bound to happen."
*Much was made this week about Weis's supposed statement this past off-season that he'll never lose to Michigan State again. The Notre Dame head coach denied ever making the statement. Spartan head coach John L. Smith said this week that he had heard about Weis making the comment. This, along with the flag planting episode last year in South Bend after Michigan State beat the Irish, made this contest even more important for each team. Weis hopes this is now all in the past.
"I have no animosity towards anyone," Weis said. "Bad blood is sometimes held on for too long. I know you can use all that other stuff for an advantage. Bad blood is something you have to put behind you. I'm only thinking about our team and our university moving forward."
*Notre Dame has now scored 40 or more points eight times since Weis took over the job last season.