Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 19, 2016

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 34 of 55 SEPT. 19, 2016 35 BY MATT JONES I t's certainly not ideal, but Michi- gan State is going to try to make it work. The Spartans, after a Sept. 2 opener against Football Championship Subdivision opponent Furman, have 15 days between their opener and a week three date against Notre Dame. Because of several non-conference series being dropped from the sched- ule — including a home-and-home with Alabama — the Spartans are left with a bye in week two this year and open the 2017 season with a bye. It's a scheduling quirk that MSU head coach Mark Dantonio has not criticized publicly, though it's not conducive for a 12-game slate that will toughen as the Spartans enter Big Ten play. "It's been a question throughout the process," Dantonio said. "I think we're the only team in America that plays as a bye the second week of the season, and then plays a Power Five team that next week." Kyle Austin, who covers the Spar- tans for, gave his take on the unusual bye week. "Mark Dantonio, if you gave him some truth serum he'd say he's not happy about it, but he's not a guy that's going to publicly question or undercut his AD," Austin said. "All he'll say is that they're going to try to make the best of it. They have a couple guys that have minor injuries. In the long term [the bye] will be something that's an issue, but for the Notre Dame game it's somewhat of an advantage." Coming off an unimpressive 28-13 victory over Furman, a game in which Michigan State was limited to just 361 yards of offense and ran only 58 plays, some may have concern about the opening-week performance. But Austin said the Spartans treated the Furman game much like recent years, when MSU opened with a lesser opponent before play- ing Oregon. "You look at how they were play- ing, I don't think they opened things up," Austin said. "You're going to see more different packages out of them. They've got a guy like Don- nie Corley, he's a freshman wide re- ceiver and their No. 1 recruit. He's kind of one of these jack-of-all-trades guys and they kept him very under wraps. They'll have some tricks up their sleeve. "They kept it very vanilla in week one and we saw very different stuff against Oregon. That's probably the game plan again this year. They could've opened things up a little bit more against Furman and put up 45 points, but they saw more value in keeping it vanilla and having the score a bit closer. Frankly, they feel pretty fortunate that Notre Dame had to go play Texas and they couldn't keep as much under wraps as Michi- gan State did." The Spartans will likely take their cue from the Longhorns, who rushed for 237 yards on 59 carries against the Fighting Irish. Michigan State boasts a deep run- ning back corps, which includes sophomore L.J. Scott. Though the thought entering the season was that the Spartans would split their car- ries equally this season, that was not the case against Furman. Scott ran 20 times for 105 yards and a touchdown, while backup Madre London had five rushes for 14 yards. "Michigan State's running back sit- uation has kind of been a bit of a mys- tery," Austin said. "They had three guys last year who they rotated fairly equally, they all ended up with simi- lar carry numbers and they finished with very similar yards. Mark Dan- tonio kind of said going into this year they liked all three of them, but then it turns out they came out and they did really pick a lead guy. "That was L.J. Scott, a sophomore and former four-star recruit from Ohio. … I didn't really think that they would anoint a No. 1 back, but they did. They'll work in at least one, maybe two depending on who you ask, but that did surprise me a bit that they picked one guy." With a new quarterback leading the Spartans' ground-and-pound attack, the expectation is that they'll test out Notre Dame on the ground. Despite losing many of its playmakers and stalwarts from last year's team that won the Big Ten and made the Col- lege Football Playoff, the strength of the team is still the running game. "That's kind of where Mark Danto- nio always starts," Austin said. "They certainly don't have anybody at the GAME PREVIEW: MICHIGAN STATE Ground And Pound The Spartans are expected to rely on their rushing attack against the Irish Facts & Figures MICHIGAN STATE VS. NOTRE DAME Game Info Date: Sept. 17, 2016. Site: Notre Dame Stadium (80,795). Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. Television: NBC. Radio: This broadcast can be heard live on SIRIUS Satellite Radio (channel 129). Series Facts: This is the 78th meeting be- tween Michigan State and Notre Dame. Notre Dame has an all-time mark of 48-28-1 against the Spartans. The two teams last played in 2013, a 17-13 Irish win. Coaches: Michigan State — Mark Dantonio (88-33, 10th year); Notre Dame — Brian Kelly (56-24, seventh season). Noting Michigan State: Dantonio, who played defensive back at South Carolina from 1976-78, took the Spartans to the 2015 College Football Playoff. Michigan State lost to Alabama in the semifinals … In his previous nine seasons in East Lansing, Dantonio has taken Michigan State to a bowl game each year, going 4-5 in those games … As Notre Dame's head coach, Kelly holds a 3-1 record against Dantonio … The Spartans finished plus-14 in turnover margin in 2015, the fifth-highest mark in the country. Sophomore running back L.J. Scott carried 20 times for 105 yards in Michigan State's season- opening 28-13 win over Furman. PHOTO COURTESY MICHIGAN STATE ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Blue and Gold Illustrated - Sept. 19, 2016