Legendary Fighting Irish coach Lou Holtz has warned Notre Dame fans that the forthcoming games against Michigan State and Michigan are vital.
Brian Kelly’s 20th ranked side are 2-0 for the first time under his leadership and face a big ask against No. 10 Michigan State on Saturday before the September 22nd showdown with Michigan.
Sporting News reports that these two games will determine where Notre Dame stand on a national football and Holtz knows that better than anyone.
The ESPN analyst told the website: “We usually had Michigan and Michigan State back to back in early September, and I can’t remember a time when they weren’t both ranked in the top 20.
“We looked at each game as being a conference game, and we knew if we beat them both we had a good chance at a national championship.”
The report states that Holtz, who led Notre Dame from 1986-96, finished 13-4-1 against the Spartans and Wolverines.
That included losses to both schools in his first season. He swept Michigan State and Michigan four straight years from 1987-90 and again in 1993.
The Irish are 10-18 against Michigan and Michigan State since Holtz left South Bend.
Notre Dame has lost five of the last six meetings against Michigan State and Michigan by four points or less.
Holtz added: “We lost to Michigan State my first year when Todd Krumm intercepted a pass and ran it back for a touchdown then had another interception late in the game.
“These are always close games; always decided by some crazy play.
“You win close games because you do the little things right at critical times.”
With just two turnovers this season, Holtz says he likes what he sees from quarterbacks Everett Golson and Tommy Rees.
He said: “The defense is playing very, very well. Manti Te’o has been outstanding. The defensive line has been great, and the secondary held up well against Purdue. They continue to play like that, and they’ll have a chance to go all the way.”
Notre Dame still has road dates with No. 5 Oklahoma (Oct. 27) and No. 2 Southern Cal (Nov. 24).
Holtz warned: “I never worried about the polls and never worried about the bowls.
“If you win enough football games those things will take care of themselves. All it means is if you win those games, the next game becomes that much more important.”