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 40 of 55 SEPT. 19, 2016 41 came down to the game's final series, the 2015 Spartans won one close game after another, winning five games that were decided by four points or less: Oregon (31-28), Purdue (24-21), the miraculous punt block and return at Michigan as time expired (27-23), the epic upset of Ohio State in Columbus (17-14), even though the Spartans were minus top QB Connor Cook, and the slugfest triumph in the Big Ten title game versus Iowa (16-13). Unlike the 2012 Irish, Michigan State did lose once in the regular season — 39-38 at Nebraska on a controversial pass play with 17 seconds left — but earned the right to be in the College Football Playoff even though some opinion held it was "lucky" the way Notre Dame was in 2012. Nevertheless, it requires strong mental resolve to consistently win the close encounters in football, and that was a hallmark of the 2015 Spartans. Whether that carries over into this year is uncertain because of the going-to- the-well-too-often theory. Yet the 2013 Notre Dame team also started 5-0 in one-touchdown games before seeing that streak end with losses at Pitt (28-21) and then at Stan- ford (27-20). Conversely in 2012, Michigan State was 7-6 while losing five games by four points or less. A pattern at Notre Dame shows that every year there will be at least five or six games that will come down to the final series or one score. Last year, the Irish won close ones at Virginia, Temple and Boston College, but had near misses at Clemson and Stanford. This year it already has had one near miss at Texas. Will this be another game that comes down to making the plays late? CAN NOTRE DAME 2016 EQUAL STANFORD 2015? A preseason top-10 college football team losing its opener is a huge buzz kill, as it was for No. 10 Notre Dame in its Sept. 4 double-overtime loss at Texas. While a victory against non-Power Five conference opponent Nevada helps get back on the winning track, credibility and confidence are much better enhanced by defeating a Power Five conference team that is ranked ahead of you. Michigan State, which was ranked No. 12 entering the week- end of Sept. 10, provides the opportu- nity for Notre Dame to reassert that it can be a contender. A blueprint to follow is the 2015 Stanford Cardinal, which lost its opener at Northwestern (16-6) and fell out of the top 25 while appearing primed for a tough year. Defeating a Central Florida team (31-7) in week two did not move the needle any more than an Irish victory over Nevada. But in week three, Stanford van- quished No. 6 USC at home (41-31), and from there, the momentum to- ward a special season gradually esca- lated, capped by defeating 10-1 Notre Dame in the regular-season finale, USC again in the Pac-12 title game, and then romping over 12-1 Iowa in the Rose Bowl. Stanford finished No. 3 in the AP poll — its highest placement since No. 2 in 1940. A win versus Michigan State could help generate much rejuvenation for Notre Dame's 2016 campaign. ✦ GAME PREVIEW: MICHIGAN STATE Fifth-year senior wide receiver Monty Madaris, who set career highs with five catches and 85 receiving yards versus Furman Sept. 2, is part of a MSU attack that will try to keep pace with the high-scoring Irish. PHOTO BY REY DEL RIO/COURTESY MICHIGAN STATE ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS Predictions Corey Bodden: Notre Dame 37, Michigan State 24 The defense is still trying to figure a few things out, but the Michigan State defense won't be able hold junior quarterback DeShone Kizer and company enough to keep the Spartans' offense in it for all 60 minutes. Bryan Driskell: Notre Dame 35, Michigan State 17 Notre Dame gets another shot at knocking off a power program, and this time the Irish get it done. Notre Dame's offensive balance will prove too much for the inexperienced Spartans front. Matt Jones: Notre Dame 40, Michigan State 35 Notre Dame puts up more than 400 yards of offense on Michigan State's traditionally strong defense and leads the entire way. Michigan State keeps it close, however, finding success running on the Irish. David McKinney: Notre Dame 37, Michigan State 27 This is the game where Notre Dame gets back on track with a solid victory over a good team. Lou Somogyi: Notre Dame 27, Michigan State 20 Notre Dame is 21-3 at home the previous four years, including handing the 2013 Spartan team its lone loss. Make it four straight versus MSU since 2011 — so the law of averages will be against the Irish at Spartan Stadium next September.

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

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