Game notes: Notre Dame vs. Michigan StatePublished 10:51pm Saturday, September 19, 2009
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – In a game that both teams really need to win, Notre Dame was able to fend off Michigan State Saturday afternoon, 33-30.
In a game that was taking on an eerily similar look to the Michigan game from the previous week, a defense stand in the final minute kept the Fighting Irish undefeated at home.
Here are the game notes from Saturday:
What a difference two weeks make
For the home opener against Nevada the press box was virtually empty.
Not the case on Saturday as the Michigan State Spartans were in town.
Every seat in the box was set to be filled as the two teams renewed their rivalry for the 73rd time.
Weather or not
For the second straight home game and third week in a row, Notre Dame played in near perfect conditions.
Saturday provided another warm, sunny afternoon with just a touch of wind.
Staten returns to South Bend
Former Dowagiac standout Mark Staten is back in Notre Dame Stadium for the second time.
The first time Staten and the Spartans came to South Bend in 2007, Michigan State left town with a 31-10 victory.
It was the first year that Mark Dantonio and his staff coached the Spartans and it was a landmark victory for the first-year staff.
Hard to explain
Although Notre Dame holds a 44-27-1 overall record in the series and a 26-13 mark at home, Michigan State has owned the Fighting Irish over the past decade.
The Spartans have won nine of the last 12 meetings, including six straight at Notre Dame Stadium.
In at least half of those six consecutive wins, the Fighting Irish appeared to be the better football team.
The most notable year where Notre Dame was the superior football team was 2005 when the Fighting Irish fell 44-41 in overtime to the Spartans.
Moment of silence
Before the playing of the National Anthem, there was a moment of silence to remember former Indiana University president and NCAA chief Myles Brand.
Wildcat works this time
After experimenting with the Wildcat a couple of different times, it finally paid off against the Spartans on Notre Dame’s first drive of the game.
Armando Allen raced untouched 13 yards for a touchdown.
Notre Dame fans can take Kyle Rudolph off the side of the milk carton.
After pretty much vanishing against Michigan, the Fighting Irish used the talented tight end twice in its opening drive, which helped set up the Allen touchdown run.
It’s about time
It took three passes before the Michigan State wide receivers caught a ball from Kirk Cousins.
Cousins was on target on his first two passes, but they were dropped.
Big 16 Conference connection
Former Battle Creek Central running back Larry Capers saw action early in the contest, breaking off a nice run on his first carry.
Caper would score the go-ahead touchdown with 1:01 to play in the opening half on a 1-yard run.
Swenson nearly automatic
Michigan State kicker Brett Swenson gives the Spartans their first points of the game and moved to within nine points of second place on the all-time scoring list.
There is no doubt that Swenson will be the all-time scoring leader at MSU before the season is over.
He also tied John Langeloh for second place on the field goals list with his 57th.
He caught Langeloh on six fewer attempts.
Swenson’s extra point kick in the third quarter was deflected giving him 130-of-132 in PATs.
Picking up where he left off
Jimmy Clausen, who has played well in the previous two games for the Fighting Irish, picked up where he left off with a solid first quarter.
Clausen hit Michael Floyd with a perfectly thrown pass in the right corner of the end zone to make it 13-3.
Clausen finished the first quarter a perfect 9-of-9 for 128 yards and a touchdown.
Clausen also set a new Notre Dame record with four consecutive 300-plus yard games.
You have got to be kidding
Notre Dame freshman kicker Nick Tausch was called for illegal procedure. Since his missed the kick anyway, the Spartans declined the penalty.
Michigan State is really the first team to flush Clausen out of the pocket so far this season.
Clausen took off on several nice runs up the middle. Unlike previous years, he looked under control when he set of up the field.
Notre Dame did not have an exchange between a quarterback and a running back in the first quarter and never faced a third down.
The only players to run the football for the Fighting Irish were Clausen and Allen out of the Wildcat.
Notre Dame tried to trick Michigan State early in the second quarter with a handoff to Golden Tate, who pulled up to throw the football. Instead, he had to tuck the ball and run, which resulted in a 1-yard loss.
With just under 12 minutes to play in the first half, Clausen was sacked and injured on the play.
It appeared that as he went down, his ankle was caught underneath him as the defense fell on him.
Clausen did walk, gingerly, to the sidelines.
Clausen was re-taped on the sideline and returned the very next series.
There certainly is not love loss between the Fighting Irish and Spartans, but as the clock ticked under 10 minutes remaining in the first half, things began to get a bit nasty.
A pair of personal fouls on Notre Dame prompted the Fighting Irish to take a time out and settle down is defense.
Although, coach Charlie Weis didn’t seemed to be totally sold on the penalties.
Right back at you
The Spartans used a little trickeration of their own to score a touchdown.
Keshawn Martin took the end around handoff and then pulled up and hit a wide open Blair White.
The touchdown pass cut the Notre Dame lead to 13-10 with 9:30 remaining.
Trickeration part 2
Michigan State followed its touchdown with an on-side kick that traveled exactly 10 yards, but kicked back toward the Spartan end zone before being recovered by MSU.
Big Ten officials
Weis is probably getting tired of seeing Big Ten officials are having them for the second straight week and his team racking up a large number of penalties in the first half.
Weis spent plenty of time on the sideline questioning calls and you can bet the Big Ten office will get another package early next week asking for explanations on plenty of plays.
Floyd injured again
Michael Floyd, who suffered a substantial cut on his knee late in the fourth quarter of the Michigan game, was injured again late in the opening have on Saturday.
It appeared that Floyd injured his shoulder.
That injury was the third to a Notre Dame skill position player in the opening half.
Clausen and Allen both were limping in the second quarter.
Floyd did not return for the second half.
After the game, Weis told the media it was possibly a broken clavicle.
Reversal of fortunes
Notre Dame held a 152-89 advantage in total offense after one quarter of play of play, but trailed the Spartans 235-218 at the half.
Michigan State outgained the Fighting Irish 146-66 in the second quarter.
Trickeration part 3
Notre Dame opened the second half with a little trickery right back at the Spartans.
With Allen running the Wildcat, he faked a handoff to Tate and then stepped back and hit Robby Paris for the touchdown.
Kicking woes solved?
It appears that Tausch is the answer for the Fighting Irish in the placekicking department.
The freshman kicker has solved one of Notre Dame’s areas of concern from last season.
Bouncing back the other way
After being caught and passed by Michigan State in total yardage at halftime, the Fighting Irish reclaimed the lead at the end of the third quarter.
Notre Dame held a 334-311 advantage heading to the final stanza.
Where’s the defense?
For the second straight week, Notre Dame looked porous at times on defense.
After playing extremely well against Nevada and its “Pistol” offense in the season opener, both Michigan and Michigan State exposed weaknesses in the Fighting Irish armor that other teams are sure to try and exploit.
No questioning their toughness
No one can question how tough Clausen and Allen are. Both played through injuries and in obvious pain.
Should they really be cheering?
A big cheer went up when Washington beat USC 16-13.
But if the Irish fans give it a second thought, they now have another team to worry about on their schedule.
Same story, different ending
Just when it looked as if Michigan State was going to steal the win from the Fighting Irish, Kyle McCarthy picked off a Cousins pass inside the 10-yard line to preserve the victory.
- By Scott Novak