Defense, penalties and a big turnover help Notre Dame secure the victory over Michigan State and take another step in the right direction. The defensive play may have saved the Irish from another loss as the offense was struggling to find their groove. Notre Dame also found themselves on the receiving end of some favorable calls at some key moments in the game.
ESPN reported that when Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio was asked if he's ever seen so many pass interference calls, he explained, "I've been coaching 30-plus years, no. Never. I guess that's where we should stop."
Brian Kelly provided a different explanation saying, “When you know the quarterback is going to throw it back shoulder, and the defensive back doesn’t know where it is, you have an advantage in that situation. You’re going to get some pass interference calls when you put the ball in a good position.”
The Irish had a number of their drives extended by pententalies and capitalized on the opportunities. Rees found TJ Jones for Notre Dame’s first touchdown putting the Irish up ten to seven still in the first half. Michigan State tied up the game at ten a piece in the third quarter but soon after failed to execute a trick play giving Notre Dame the momentum needed to gut out the win.
Cornerback Matthias Farley intercepted a Michigan State wide receiver pass and ran the ball down to the Michigan State 37-yard line. Again with the aid of some pass interference calls, Notre Dame strung together a nice touchdown drive. Cam McDaniel punched in Notre Dame’s deciding score with a seven-yard run. McDaniel did most of the runningback work for the Irish against a solid Michigan State defense and seems to be Kelly’s number one guy as of now. He finished with just 40-yards though, Michigan State was giving little in the running game and forcing Tommy Rees to throw the ball.
Rees didn’t have his most productive day completing just 14 out of 34 throws and finishing with 142-yards. He missed a decent amount of chances but got the job done when it mattered most. Some were questioning how much Kelly decided to throw the ball but Rees explained it had more to do with what the Michigan State defense was giving them.
Michigan State had some bad luck and missed key chances to take control of the game. They had the ball in the red zone four separate times without scoring. Give credit to Notre Dame's defense for stopping them but the Spartans definitely have themselves to blame for a lot of their troubles.
Notre Dame looked better in this game at times but still has a lot of work to do. Since beating the Irish, Michigan has had two tough games against lowly competition giving more reason to question this Notre Dame team. This game could have easily gone the other way but a win’s a win and Notre Dame has to again build off of their mistakes.