In a week where Notre Dame proved they were relevant in the landscape of college sports, they proved they are still a force to be reckoned with in football too. Three days after announcing a move to the ACC, Notre Dame defeated 10th ranked Michigan State 20-3 at Spartan Stadium, improving to 3-0 for the first time since 2002.
Everett Golson start his third straight game. He got to finish this one too. Golson made the first big play of the game, and he did it with his arm and his feet. On a 2nd and long play, Golson escaped the Spartan pressure and rolled outside of the pocket. He then fired across his body to the endzone, where senior John Goodman made a one-handed catch while being mugged by a Michigan State defender. It was the first offensive touchdown allowed by the Spartan defense this season, giving the Irish an early 7-0 lead.
Notre Dame scored again on their first drive of the 2nd quarter. A 32-yard run by George Atkinson got the Irish into the red zone. Four plays later Golson dropped back to pass, but when no receivers were open, he took off for a 6 yard touchdown run putting Notre Dame up 14-0. Michigan State appeared to be driving for a touchdown late in the half, but a sack by freshman Sheldon Day halted the Spartan progress and they settled for a 50-yard field goal. Notre Dame led 14-3 at halftime.
Notre Dame’s defense manhandled the Spartan offense the entire second half. On the night, Notre Dame limited Michigan State's powerful rushing attack to 50 total yards on the ground, and 237 yards total. And they kept the Spartans out of the endzone, the first time Notre Dame has done so against a Big Ten foe since a 35-0 win over Purdue in 1996. That was the year of Lou Holtz' tenure.
On the night, Notre Dame's defense sacked MSU quarterback Andrew Maxwell five times, but the Irish got to him several more times than that. Senior captain Manti Te'o, playing with a heavy heart just days after the death of his grandmother and girlfriend, led the Irish with 12 tackles and a fumble recovery.
Notre Dame fans who made the trip to Spartan Stadium were chanting “We want Michigan” at the end of the game. The Irish get the Wolverines next Saturday night, under the lights at Notre Dame Stadium, in a game that will carry as much hype as any that Notre Dame has played in for several years.