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In what was a thrilling, back-and-forth, ping-pong style game that seemed destined for overtime, the Fighting Irish edged out Michigan State 33-30.
When safety Kyle McCarthy intercepted Kirk Cousins potential game winning pass with less than a minute remaining, it sealed Notre Dame’s first win over the Spartans at Notre Dame Stadium since 1993.
Jimmy Clausen completed 22 of 33 passes for 300 yards and two touchdowns, none bigger than the game winning 33-yard strike to Golden Tate with 5:18 left in the ballgame. Tate, who pestered the Spartans defense all afternoon- finished with seven catches for 127 yards.
It was a relieving win for the Irish and head coach Charlie Weis, who was being criticized all week for their loss to Michigan.
However, the victory didn’t come without setbacks. Clausen played three quarters with a foot injury he suffered in the second quarter and superstar wide receiver Mike Floyd didn’t play in the second half due to a broken collarbone. It’s not known how long he will be out for.
Michigan State gave a valiant effort and seemed to have an answer for every Irish score. Notre Dame took control early when Armando Allen Jr. (115 yards on 23 carries) scored a touchdown from 17 yards with just over 12 minutes remaining in the first quarter.
Clausen then hit Floyd with a 22-yard touchdown pass on their next possession, which made the score 13-3. But the Spartans took the lead at halftime after Larry Carper found the end zone with a one-yard run.
But it was the Irish defense that ultimately sealed the deal.
Notre Dame (2-1) heads to Indiana next weekend to take on a Purdue team that was upset by Northern Illinois on Saturday afternoon. The Spartans (1-2) will head to Madison to take on Wisconsin.
"It's a big win for Notre Dame, it's not a big win for Charlie Weis," Weis told a sideline reporter after the game. "These kids fought their butts off and I'm happy for them."