Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 25, 2017

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

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Page 40 of 55 SEPT. 25, 2017 41 classified as a September "Redemp- tion Bowl" for both teams. CLOSE ENCOUNTERS The Notre Dame-Michigan State series — of which this will be the 79th meeting — has been earmarked by one-score victories. From 2000-06, the outcome in those seven clashes between the Fighting Irish and Spartans was never deter- mined by more than seven points, a school record at Notre Dame against any single opponent. Michigan State won four of those seven, while out- scoring Notre Dame 188-180, an av- erage of 26.9-25.7 per game. The last two meetings, both in Notre Dame Stadium, also came down to the final series, with the Irish eking out a 17-13 win in 2013 — the lone defeat for the 13-1 Spartans that season — and Michigan State holding on for a 36-28 conquest last year, although Notre Dame did have a final chance to potentially send the game into overtime. Especially notable is that since 1978, Joe Montana's final season as the Irish starting quarterback, the two rivals have met 17 times in Spar- tan Stadium. Notre Dame won 12 of them, but nine were by eight points or less. Interestingly, two of the easier wins at Spartan Stadium were by an iden- tical 20-3 score, registered by the 1988 national champs and then in 2012 by the 12-0 regular-season team that advanced to the BCS National Cham- pionship Game. No matter how down Michigan State might be or how much on the upswing Notre Dame is, a victory in Spartan Stadium has never been an easy proposition for the Irish. TESTED OR RESTED? The Irish will be more battle tested entering the Sept. 23 contest because they will have played preseason SEC East favorite Georgia two weeks ear- lier and then traveled to Boston Col- lege, where it has traditionally has had competitive battles. C o n v e r s e l y, M i c h i g a n S t a t e changed around its schedule to where the bye week (Sept. 16) falls the week before the Notre Dame game. The bye was originally for opening week- end Sept. 2, but Bowling Green was shifted there and Western Michigan was moved to Sept. 9 to help give the Spartans a little extra preparation time for the Irish. Will it be more beneficial for Notre Dame to have been tested by le- gitimate Power Five competition, including on the road, or better for Michigan State to have received a lit- tle rest and extra scouting and prepa- ration for the Irish after starting 2-0? On a side note, was it a bonus for the Spartans to regain some posi- tive energy after home victories over Mid-American Conference foes Bowling Green (35-10) and West- ern Michigan (28-14), or is it merely fool's gold? Notre Dame might be a slight fa- vorite based on talent level and all of the Spartans' attrition this offseason, but with the game on the road, there is a chance it could be a pick 'em. ✦ GAME PREVIEW: MICHIGAN STATE Notre Dame has won 12 of its last 17 meetings with Michigan State at Spartan Stadium, including a 20-3 victory by the Manti Te'o-led Irish in 2012. Nine of those victories, however, came by eight points or less. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA Predictions Corey Bodden: Notre Dame 28, Michigan State 27 Michigan State gives the Irish all they can handle, but Notre Dame's offense makes one more play to pull it out late. Bryan Driskell: Notre Dame 30, Michigan State 16 The Spartans will battle Notre Dame early thanks to tough players along both lines, but Notre Dame will pull away late. David McKinney: Notre Dame 30, Michigan State 24 Two of the more disappointing teams in 2016 seem to be headed in a better direction, but Notre Dame has faced tougher competition. Lou Somogyi: Notre Dame 23, Michigan State 17 No matter what a mess MSU was in the past year on and off the field, winning in Spartan Stadium seldom is a breeze for the Irish.

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