Notre Dame Football Game Preview: Week 4 vs Michigan State Spartans

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Time to cue up all the usual 1966 references as Spartan Stadium hosts a Michigan State versus Notre Dame football clash once again. There will be numerous allusions to their legendary meeting that November in East Lansing, which ended in a 10-10 tie. It’s considered one of the greatest and most controversial college football games of all time, as both teams finished the season ranked #1 in several polls.

The Fighting Irish head coach that storied season was Ara Parseghian, who we just last month. MSU was led back then by Duffy Daugherty.

KICKOFF: 7pm EST Saturday

SPREAD: Notre Dame football -4

TV SEGMENT PREVIEW:

I discussed the temperature of Brian Kelly’s seat during my segment this week on WGN, CLTV Sports Feed with Jarrett Payton, have a watch below:

 

Notre Dame Football (2-1) Preview:

The Fighting Irish have been a ground first (and second and third) kind of offense thus far. They won very decisively at Boston College by dominating the line of scrimmage and running wild. Quarterback Brandon Wimbush did little through the air, and his passing statistics from the contest in Chestnut Hill are very unimpressive, but he compensated for that and more by running for over 200 yards, and rolling up four rushing touchdowns.

Don’t be surprised if 2017 Notre Dame football takes the option elements in their offense, and steps it up a notch to become more of an option-centric team.

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Some facts and figures about the ND rushing attack: Tailback Josh Adams ranks fifth nationally in rushing with 443 yards. Wimbush ranks 23rd with 314 rushing yards and the only quarterbacks ahead of him are his counterparts at Army and Navy, where you know, they try to avoid throwing a forward pass like it’s the plague.

The Irish are one of only two teams (Tulsa is the other) with two 400 yards rushing games thus far. The 515 rushing yards put up by ND versus Boston College are the second-highest single-game team FBS total thus far in 2017; Georgia Tech had 535.

Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly on how he’ll prepare Wimbish for an emotional road game against a bitter rivalry:

“I’ll do our best to turn up the intensity here in practice, but again, he’s going to have to be emotionally in the right place. He’s got the skills and the strategy necessary to keep those distractions out, and we’re pretty confident he’ll be able to do that.”

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Michigan State Spartans (2-0) Preview:

Paraphrasing Rihanna, “let me see you Lewerke, work work work.” Michigan State QB Brian Lewerke is the Spartans leading rusher through the first two games of the season. He’s got two rushing TDs and 150 yards, on a 8.8 yards per carry average to complement his 411 yards passing, four TD passes and 65% completion thus far.

The Spartans accomplished a Bowling Green Massacre in week one, beating the Falcons 35-10, in a game that was actually much more lopsided than that final score. Of course, most teams facing BGSU this year will accomplish a Bowling Green Massacre, so KellyAnne Conway can rest easy knowing that her made up term is now coming actually happening.

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Kelly sizing up MSU, their identity/philosophy and Lewerke:

“Mark Dantonio is a run-first, play action-second, but featuring a quarterback that is your leading rusher is a little bit different, though. I don’t know that that’s going to be — at the end of the year he’ll be the leading rusher. I don’t think most teams plan on it that way. But he is extremely agile, athletic, and somebody that you have to defend.

“I think what they’ve done essentially in the first two games is taken advantage of what his strengths are and have kept it pretty simple like we have in terms of the passing game.”

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Prediction for novelty purposes only: MSU 28, Notre Dame football 21

The Spartans always gear up for the Fighting Irish, every time. It’s not quite the emotion they get when the face Michigan, but it’s not far behind and the fact that won in South Bend last year, during a season in which they truly did not show a lot of motivation much of the time, speaks volumes.

When it comes to predictions, first of all NO ONE CARES about your predictions except for you. Remember that if/when you gloat about getting a pick right as I’m about to do now. Picking winners is one thing, getting the point spread exactly right is another, and then getting the exact score correct is really something.

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I called the ND 17, MSU 13 decision in 2013, and I also called the Spartans winning by 10 over Ohio State in the B1G Championship game that season. You’ll recall Sparty being huge underdogs in that one, and I’m surprised they are substantial underdogs for this one.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net and TheBank.News, which is partnered with News Now and Minute Media. Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com, currently contributes regularly to WGN CLTV and Chicago Now.

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