The Fighting Irish will try their luck against the “other Michigan team”, Michigan State, on Saturday at 8PM EST on ABC. It will be no cakewalk for The Fighting Irish as they have question marks at quarterback and defense.
Here’s a preview of Saturday’s match-up.
The Spartans are 2-0 this season coming off wins against Western Michigan and Florida Atlantic. Their first real test comes against the Fighting Irish. MSU QB Kirk Cousins, in spite of great numbers last year (2,680 yards passing, 19 touchdowns) has gotten off to a slow start with 328 yards and a paltry 57.9% completion rate.
The Spartan’s strength is their rushing attack. Ranked 11th in nation, the two-headed rushing monster of Edwin Baker and Leveon Bell have a combined 400 yards rushing and 6 touchdowns . Edwin in fact is the nation’s fifth best running back himself having notched 300 yards and 4 touchdowns on the ground.
The Spartans’ receiving corps leaves much to be desired. The air attack is ranked 91st in the nation. The Spartan’s top receiver, Mark Dell, has only 100 receiving yards on the season.
The MSU defense is porous to say the least. Last week in a win over Florida International, 30-17, the defense yielded 215 rushing yards and one touchdown to RB Jeff Van Camp and 99 yards in the air to WR Lester Jean.
Notre Dame suffered a major loss against the University of Michigan last week as junior QB Dayne Crist sustained an injury rushing head first for touchdown and came out of the game in the first quarter. In spite of the setback he finished with 281 yards and two touchdowns. His leadership and passing skills return to the field on Saturday according to coach Brian Kelly.
The Fighting Irish receiving corps has lived up to their expectations, tallying 381 yards last week (of 535 total offensive yards). The nation’s 20th rated passing attack was paced by TE Kyle Rudolph’s 164 yards and one touchdown and WR TJ Jones’ 73 yards and one score.
Notre Dame’s rushing has been consistent and against the Wolverines ratcheted 158 total yards with RB Armado Allen accounting for more than half of those yards with 89.
The Blue and Gold defense remains a liability. The team yielded 502 total yards (258 rushing and 248 passing) and three TDs to Michigan’s QB phenom Denard Robinson. The Fighting irish defensive unit ranks 101st in the nation in defense and with 472 yards per game.
MSU has a strong rushing attack that will give the Irish trouble. They do have two wins but against creampuff teams. Look for the Spartan defense to struggle mightily against the triumvirate spread offense of WR Michael Floyd, TE Kyle Rudolph and RB Armando Allen with Crist returning to the helm.
Notre Dame 32 Michigan State 18.