An early spin through MSU’s football season: Notre Dame, perhaps a mirror image, awaits on Sept. 21

This is the fourth in a 12-day series looking at Michigan State’s opponents this football season and their chances against the Spartans.

Week 4: Notre Dame
Time and Date: 3:30 p.m., Sept. 21
Venue: Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, Ind.

Fighting Irish a glance
Coach: Brian Kelly (Fourth season, 28-11)
Last season: 12-1; lost in BCS national championship game
Returning starters: 12 (four offense, eight defense)

Preseason magazine predictions
Athlon: Ranked No. 8
Lindy’s: Ranked No. 14
Sporting News: Ranked No. 10

Why they’ll beat the Spartans
Michigan State won’t have seen anyone close to this level physically or have ventured outside of East Lansing before its trek to meet the Irish. Conversely, Notre Dame will be tested, coming home after consecutive weeks at Purdue and Michigan. The Irish are without QB Everett Golson — thanks to his academic blunder — but fifth-year senior Tommy Rees is an experienced, albeit less mobile, fallback. There is some proven talent around him (a relatively veteran offensive line and 50-catch wideout TJ Jones), along with a few intriguing pieces and a couple possible holes. Sound familiar? Defensively, the Irish have a pair of All-American-caliber lineman in Stephon Truitt and Louis Nix III and seasoned backfield.

This Notre Dame squad might turn out similar to MSU in many ways. But on this Saturday, the Irish should have a better understanding of who they are, while the Spartans are set up to be 3-0 without being certain what they’ve got.

Why they won’t
Notre Dame was hoping it had returned perennially among college football’s best, counting on a gifted and athletic QB to make its offense a dangerous complement to an elite defense. Instead, minus Golson, the Irish could already have a loss by this point and, in understanding who they are, also know their own demoralizing limitations. Notre Dame isn’t likely to run away from teams offensively. And, if through three cupcakes, MSU’s offense finds some measure of confidence, the Spartans are more than capable of winning in South Bend — as they’ve done six times since 1997 — against this Irish roster.

Final analysis
We’ll know a ton about Michigan State heading into the Spartans’ first bye week. The schedule sets up perfectly for an offense in need of therapy — three games to refine itself and then a serious test before Big Ten play. If MSU sputters, this will be the spot to make changes.

New regime rows WMU into Spartan Stadium for Aug. 30 opener
Rebuilding South Florida visits on Sept. 7
Youngstown State, on Sept. 14, offers final tuneup before season gets real

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7 Responses to An early spin through MSU’s football season: Notre Dame, perhaps a mirror image, awaits on Sept. 21

  1. avatar Bruce Franklin says:

    Coach Dantonio is not the only B1G coach to enjoy a non-conference schedule consisting largely of cupcakes, weak sisters and patsies, but it’s a shame that unlike ND, we have to wait ’till the 4th game of the season for a true test. Many observers think the Spartans are a lock to win their first three games of 2013, but, IMHO, if those wins are struggles, 2013 is going to be a long season. No one believes that non-conference games are as tough or as important as the conference games. A “W” after 60 minutes of hard-fought football against a tough conference opponent is more than satisfactory, but against a patsy opponent? It’s UNSAT! Spartan fans ought to be hoping/praying that those early seasons wins are blow-outs.

  2. avatar Ghost of Biggie says:

    So who are you calling To win this game Graham. Remember you have to face this Spartan if you pick wrong.


  3. avatar trughostofbo says:

    Yup, become a Gulo fan, and be sure of winning the BCSBS National Championship starlet recruit trophy. Haven’t ever won a BCS Championship but by golly, We’re Number 1 on paper.

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