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Game Day: No. 20 Notre Dame vs. No. 10 Michigan State

Sep 15, 2012, 2:14 PM EDT


As always, we’ll be hosting the live blog here later tonight, but let’s roll through a few pressing questions as the Irish prepare to face the Spartans tonight in East Lansing.

A win would give the Irish their first 3-0 start in a decade, and likely propel the Irish into the top 15 as they head into their grudge match with Michigan. A loss — well, it makes the match-up against the Wolverines all the more pressing.

A few final thoughts before it’s time to get down to business.

Can Everett Golson manage this football game?

The Irish offensive line might be taking the heat, but there’s a high likelihood that they’re taking some criticism that could be leveled on the Irish’s young quarterback. Purdue confused the Irish by loading the box and putting the heat on Golson to make the right checks at the line of scrimmage. It didn’t happen in the second half, and after Golson led the Irish on a ten play touchdown drive, the offense sputtered, failing to put together a drive over 17 yards until Rees came in to close the game.

Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi certainly isn’t known for his vanilla game plans. So if the Irish are going to walk out of Spartan Stadium alive, they’ll need their young quarterback to learn from last Saturday.

Will the Irish get production out of their wide receivers?

If two games are any indication, Davaris Daniels will end up being the team’s No. 1 weapon at the position, an impressive jump for a redshirt freshman who is also learning on the fly. After spotlighting the Spartan cornerbacks yesterday, it’s going to be important for the Irish to get some big plays with their wide receivers — taking some shots down the field vertically with players not named Tyler Eifert.

Outside of Daniels’ 41-yard catch and run last weekend, the long reception for Notre Dame’s receivers was a 17-yard gain by Robby Toma. The Irish are going to need their wide receivers to be more than possession players.

Can the Irish front seven force Andrew Maxwell into some bad decisions?

Maxwell has shown the ability to turn the ball over, getting intercepted three times in the first half against Boise State. The Irish’s front seven is the best he’s faced, and the Irish are going to need to help Stephon Tuitt get to the quarterback, with guys like Prince Shembo and Ishaq Williams being counted on to supply the heat.

Bennett Jackson made his first big play as a cornerback, intercepting Caleb TerBush and setting the Irish up for a field goal. The Spartans plan on trying to confuse Everett Golson. There’s no reason why Bob Diaco can’t do the same to Maxwell.

What team is going to run the ball more effectively?

You know Mark Dantonio will figure out how to get Le’Veon Bell his touches. But will Brian Kelly and Chuck Martin figure out how to get the Irish’s talented stable of runners the football?

Kelly said Cierre Wood looked a little rusty this week as he worked his way back into the rotation. But I expect Wood to reassert himself into the mix immediately, reminding everybody why he was an 1,100 yard rusher last season and an elite player.

Kelly and Martin need to get the ball in the hands of Wood, George Atkinson and Theo Riddick at least 30 times combined, up from the 20 touches the running backs accounted for last week.

Can the Irish put it together on the big stage?

It’s been a long time since a Notre Dame team has come out on the big stage firing on all cylinders. Can this be the team that does it?

While the standard, “It was against Navy” caveat certainly applies, the Irish handled their business and looked crisp during the season opener, putting together an impressive performance. Against Purdue that was hardly the case, with penalties and play-clock issues plaguing the team all game.

If the Irish are going to win tonight, they’ll need to play clean football across the board. You get the sense that Kelly feels quietly confident his team can do this, yet we’ll find out tonight if Notre Dame can put together a complete performance.



  1. nudeman - Sep 15, 2012 at 2:39 PM

    Answers are:

    Yes, and especially so if they commit to establishing the run
    Yes, if they don’t sh** the bed under pressure
    Yes, but he will prob make some big plays too
    Tonight, we hope. Getting Wood back can’t be a bad thing.
    “Can” they? Yes. “Will” they? Well it’s about time.

    BTW, for anyone watching the KU game on tv, Dayne Crist just looks terrible. I’ve been leading the Dayne Crist bandwagon, but as poster herre “andyteg44” pointed out to me, maybe BK knew wtf he was doing. God he’s nervous in the pocket.

    • joeschu - Sep 15, 2012 at 11:51 PM

      Just checked the bed… We’re good. Well, it’s about time!

  2. dermmite - Sep 15, 2012 at 3:29 PM

    Big time Nd Fan. Drink any and all kind of kool aid. We win tonight by 10. Only wish I was at Corby’s to enjoy true Irish fans.

  3. halfwhitey - Sep 15, 2012 at 3:42 PM

    Very optimistic and overly specific prediction:

    Ishaq gets pressure on Maxwell causing an errant pass, Manti picks it off and runs it in for 6, takes a knee in one of those fateful emotional moments that always seem to happen. Brent Musburger says a ton of sappy shit. Nude cheers while vomiting all over himself.

    • nudeman - Sep 15, 2012 at 4:14 PM

      You had me right up to the vomit. Unlikely.

      While I love the rest of your scenario, somewhat dubious about Ishaq making the big play. He is one of those guys who – so far – we’ve done nothing but wait for the greatness with almost nothing to show for it.

      And yes, I realize he’s young. But I also realize he has a lot of ability and was a 5 star guy.

  4. zorichmidriff - Sep 15, 2012 at 4:10 PM

    Big and only question for me is if I’ll make it to gametime after Jameson o’clock struck early.

    • ndmsu2006 - Sep 15, 2012 at 6:03 PM

      I know what you mean, waiting all day for this one has been a struggle.

  5. don74 - Sep 15, 2012 at 6:24 PM

    Corby’s still around? Better question, is Joe Mell still standing.

  6. irisheyesinsd - Sep 15, 2012 at 6:43 PM

    We came out firing on all cylinders in primetime a couple of times last year Keith. We just didn’t do so for 60 minutes. The UM and FSU games come to mind. If we can play a complete game without a cylinder misfire (to use your analogy), we are in good position to win the game.
    Second, we have to win the turnover battle. I think you imply that by talking about Golson’s game management and the ability of our front seven to pressure Maxwell.
    This game is huge! We get UM at home, so winning at least 1/3 on the road against MSU, OU, and USC is key to fulfilling the the promise this season still holds. And IMO, I think MSU is the “easiest” of those 3 roadies. We really need this one. Plus it would be nice to have a 2 game winning streak against them.
    Also, can’t wait to check out the USC/Stanford game which comes on an hour before the ND game to scout our future opponents. Should be a pretty good game.

    • papadec - Sep 15, 2012 at 7:33 PM

      I was looking forward to that same opportunity – but the game doesn’t start an hour ahead of ND. It starts 1/2 hour ahead (like now). Oh well – the Fla/Tenn game has been a good warm up game.

  7. dermmite - Sep 15, 2012 at 11:45 PM

    Is are defense that good! Hellz yeah! Bring on The skunk badgers.

  8. NotreDan - Sep 16, 2012 at 12:15 AM

    F detroit christine and F all the doubters, especially those that claim to be ND FANS

  9. irishirish777 - Sep 16, 2012 at 7:43 AM

    Spartan fans not saying much now….Bell not a dark horse for H trophy….Irish on a roll at 3-0, Go Irish!! B

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