Notre Dame gets statement win against MSUPublished 2:32pm Sunday, September 16, 2012
EAST LANSING – With a new look to its stadium, a raucous sellout crowd of 79,000-plus strong and a season’s worth of aspirations hanging in the balance, No. 10-ranked Michigan State played host to one of its oldest and bitterest rivals, the No. 20-ranked Fighting Irish of Notre Dame, under the lights at Spartan Stadium and the scrutiny of the college football world Saturday night.
The Spartans came in five point favorites, due largely in part to their eight-ranked defense, which coming into the game had only given up two field goals all season and the play of emerging star running back Le’Veon Bell.
However, it was Notre Dame (3-0) which proved in resounding fashion that it was the better team with a dominant 20-3 win. This was the second such beating that Brian Kelly and the Irish have given MSU (2-1) in as many seasons.
The Fighting Irish’s performance on both sides of the ball was superb, as they racked up 300 total yards with two touchdowns on offense and held the Spartans to just 50 rushing yards, 237 total yards and one field goal.
Once the battle for the megaphone got started, Notre Dame wasted no time in hanging the first touchdown of the season on MSU’s defense. On its second drive, Everett Golson hit John Goodman for a 37 yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead that would hold up for the entirety of the first quarter.
With the solid play on both sides of the ball the Irish were rolling early and never stopped.
The Spartans however, got off to a start they had hoped to avoid. Going three and out on their first drive, missing a field goal on their second drive and with the defense giving up large chunks of yardage to the Irish offense (the largest of which being the Goodman touchdown).
A trend, that Michigan State would be unable to buck for the entire game.
MSU’s woes and the Irish fortunes continued when Golson scrambled for a five yard touchdown run putting the Irish ahead 14-0 with 10 minutes remaining in the second quarter. The Spartans’ only points of the first half would come on a Dan Conroy 50 yard field goal with less than four minutes left to play in the second quarter.
Notre Dame finished the half with 189 yards on offense, with 126 yards coming through the air, 63 yards more on the ground and one touchdown using each method. The Irish defense also played well keeping Bell and the Spartans in check, limiting them to 121 yards total.
After exchanging multiple possessions throughout the third quarter with neither team threatening to score the stage was set for either a Spartan rally or an exclamation mark on an impressive statement game by the Irish.
Unfortunately for the Spartans, and the Big Ten, the latter would become reality as the Notre Dame defense never wavered and completely closed down any attempt by MSU to make a comeback.
“This was a tough one. Obviously we didn’t play the way we would’ve wanted and they played exceptionally,” Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said. “I wouldn’t say our season will be defined by this game though, it wasn’t last year and it won’t be this year either. Our goals are still within our reach.”
For his part, Kelly was happy with his team’s victory, but downplayed any notion that this win should spark any BCS contender talk.
“This was a great team win. It was about as complete of game as I think we have played in my time here,” he said. “At the end of the day though we’re still only 3-0 and have plenty of room for improvements. We’ll enjoy this one but our focus has to move to Michigan now.”
Notre Dame will look to go 4-0 next week as it takes on Michigan at home while Michigan State will look to bounce back against Eastern Michigan in East Lansing.
Notre Dame 7 7 0 6 – 20
Michigan State 0 3 0 0 – 3
ND – John Goodman 36 pass from Everett Golson (Kyle Brindza kick)
ND – Golson 6 run (Brindza kick)
MSU – Dan Conroy 50 field goal
ND – Brindza 29 field goal
ND – Brindza 47 field goal