Date: Saturday, September 17
Game Time: 7:30 pm ET
Venue: Notre Dame Stadium, Notre Dame, IN
The AP No. 18 Notre Dame Fighting Irish will renew a rivalry with a Big Ten power Saturday. This weekend, they will face the No. 12 Michigan State Spartans for the 78th time in program history.
The Fighting Irish and the Spartans have not played against one another since 2013. The Fighting Irish won that matchup 17-13. The Spartans look to get some revenge when they visit Notre Dame Stadium Saturday night.
These two programs are probably even. Both have talent, and both are well coached. However, the Spartans might have the advantage coming into this matchup because they have had an extra week to prepare.
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While the No. 18 Fighting Irish got a comfortable 39-10 win against the Nevada Wolfpack this past Saturday, the Spartans were on a bye week. They were focusing on themselves and preparing for Notre Dame. That is a great advantage for them coming into this weekend’s matchups.
The Spartans’ strength is its defense. They are loaded with defensive talent. Spartans’ head coach Mark Dantonio has done a terrific job building a Top 25 defense every single year. Notre Dame needs to find some cracks in that defense if the Fighting Irish want to win.
Luckily, the Fighting Irish have DeShone Kizer, who has played splendidly this season. In two games, Kizer has completed 71.4% of his passes for 371 passing yards, seven touchdowns and one interception. He also has 112 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns.
Notre Dame will need Kizer to continue his high level of play in order to overcome the Spartans’ stingy defense. They will need their running backs and receivers to be effective.
Tarean Folston and Josh Adams have been a solid 1-2 punch out of the backfield so far. It will not be easy to get rushing yards on the Spartans’ defense. Both guys will have to fight for every yard they get.
Meanwhile, the Notre Dame receivers need to stay opportunistic. Equamineous St. Brown and CJ Sanders can create big plays. Both guys will be crucial to the Fighting Irish’s offense because Michigan State will devote most of their energy to stopping the run.
On the flip side, Notre Dame’s defense will be challenged physically. Michigan State does not do anything special offensively. They are a conservative, power run football team.
The Spartans’ offense will try to overpower the Fighting Irish’s defense. They will hand the ball off to their power running back LJ Scott to try to wear down Notre Dame’s defense.
The Spartans also have senior Tyler O’Connor at quarterback. However, he did not really throw the ball down the field in the team’s 28-13 over Furman. O’Connor is talented, but Notre Dame’s defense should be a more challenging to beat than Furman’s unit.
This game will probably be a low-scoring affair. Michigan State will control the time of possession with their run game and wear down Notre Dame’s defense.
At the same time, the Spartans defense will have trouble against the Fighting Irish’s offense. Kizer is an accurate passer, and he has weapons with big play ability across the field. He is also elusive so it will not be easy for Michigan State to sack him in the backfield.
In the end, Notre Dame should find a way to win this game. Yes, the Spartans had an extra week to prepare but the Fighting Irish need this game badly. With one more regular season loss, the Fighting Irish’s College Football Playoff chances will go out the window.
It should be an entertaining, low-scoring contest when these two teams meet on September 17.
Prediction: Notre Dame 24, Michigan State 20