Posted by Tom Fornelli
NOTRE DAME WON. It took three games, but Notre Dame finally put together a complete performance and didn't shoot itself in the foot repeatedly. Though it should be pointed out that Notre Dame still managed to turn the ball over three times in victory, but they weren't the crippling turnovers that we've grown accustomed to seeing from the Irish. Also, the Notre Dame defense did a fantastic job of shutting down a Michigan State offense that looked very strong in its first two games.
WHY NOTRE DAME WON. Defense. Defense, and then a little more defense. Michigan State came into South Bend averaging 36 points and 415 yards per game. Notre Dame held the Spartan attack to 358 yards, and more importantly, only 13 points. What was truly impressive, however, was that Notre Dame held the Spartans to 29 yards rushing on 23 attempts. The Spartans came into the game averaging 173.5 yards per game on the ground.
WHEN NOTRE DAME WON. For a few moments in the fourth quarter it looked like the dark clouds were beginning to hover over Notre Dame Stadium one more time. With a 28-13 lead and less than 5 minutes to go, the Irish forced the Spartans to punt on a 4th and 17. That's when sure-handed punt returner John Goodman muffed the punt and Michigan State recovered inside the Notre Dame 20. However, instead of disaster for the Irish, it was disaster for the Spartans a few plays later when Kirk Cousins was picked off by Robert Blanton at the goal line. Blanton's 82-yard return set up the final Notre Dame field goal of the day, and put an end to any possible collapse.
WHAT NOTRE DAME WON. It got the monkey of the first two weeks of its back. Now instead of focusing on everything that went wrong for the next seven days, the Irish can finally focus on what went right as they prepare to head east to Pittsburgh to take on the Panthers next week.
WHAT MICHIGAN STATE LOST. A bit of respect. Not that losing to Notre Dame on the road is anything to be ashamed of, but while Michigan State looked very impressive in its first two games, it did so against FAU and Youngstown State. In the Spartans first true test of the season the team did not fare all that well, and frankly, looked overmatched on both the offensive and defensive line at times. A likely win against Central Michigan won't do much to correct the team's perception next week and Michigan State will have to wait until its Big Ten opener against Ohio State to impress pollsters again.