#12 Michigan State Football vs #18 Notre Dame: Game Preview, Prediction

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It’s the golden anniversary of the game of the century; and also a former Cincinnati Bearcats Head Coaches Bowl. Notre Dame football renews their rivalry with Michigan State football on Saturday night and it’s a series (lately at least) that has been as exciting and as interesting as college football can be.

If the game plays out the way it looks on paper, it’ll be another tight one. To quote Spandau Ballet, “I know this. Much is. True;” as the last ten MSU-ND match-ups have been decided by an average of 1.3 ppg.

The Irish are ranked #18, while Michigan State is #12 in the latest AP poll, yet it’s the Spartans who are the underdogs, with most spreads around 7.5 points.

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SERIES: Saturday night marks the 50th anniversary of the 1966 “Game of the Century;” the famed 10-10 tie between the two teams. MLive have the perfect retrospective piece on this game; below an excerpt:

Twenty-five players on the field that day would receive some form of All-American honor at some point in their college careers. Ten would be first-round NFL draft picks, including No. 1 overall pick Bubba Smith in the 1967 draft. Jones went No. 2 in the draft, while linebacker George Webster went No. 5 and wide receiver Gene Washington went No. 8.

In all, thirty-one players would play in the NFL. Compared to a typical game, this one featured a staggering amount of talent.

It makes you harken back to Earl Morrall, “the last of the crew cuts,” who was MSU’s last QB selected in the first round of a NFL Draft, a very long time ago.

(see 2:10 mark in the video below)

TV: NBC 6:30 PM Saturday

SPREAD: see above

Michigan State Football Preview:

You can bet the farm that Dantonio will use the substantial underdog status as motivation for this one. Having a chip on the shoulder is what defines the Michigan State football program, and Vegas just gave Coach D more ammunition. You can understand the spread though given how unimpressive MSU looked in the season opener against an FCS foe with the same name as the white supremacist L.A.P.D. officer in the O.J. trial. (In 2016, he would be referred to as a “white nationalist.”

Dantonio teams often start slowly, so it’s actually not surprising how the season opener was rather meh. It’s going to take time for new starting QB Tyler O’Connor to get on the same page as his receivers. By the way, O’Connor looks A LOT like Stifler from “American Pie”

Fitting as part of that movie was set and filmed at Michigan State. Given that Joe Paterno looks like a creepy, detestable version of Eugene Levy and now you’re already 1/7 of the way towards casting an All-B1G version of the 1999 raunchy teen sex comedy.

The Spartans had a very rare and rather odd bye in week two; thus they’ve had more time than usual to prepare for this one. Dantonio started 3-1 in his first four against the Notre Dame football program, but he’s now dropped the last three. Expect him to be really dialed in on this one.

Be sure to check out our Michigan State football news and notes, as well as our Michigan State football season preview and predictions.

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Notre Dame Preview:

Notre Dame has some injuries, and off-the-field issues in the secondary, so don’t be surprised if Dantonio’s game plan is to be heavily focused on prioritizing the air attack. Coach Brian Kelly answered a question about the issues of DB depth, as it keeps getting thinner and thinner:

“I think if you look at the guys, we got Donte Vaughn in the game,” Kelly said.

“He was able to get some work. Perry, we activated Perry this week in special teams to get him some more work at the safety position, another freshman. Nicco Fertitta has taken a lot of work there. We think we’ve got enough depth at the positions to not need to make any wholesale changes at that position.”

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Cornerback Shaun Crawford suffered a torn Achilles tendon early in the Nevada game. The sophomore, who was really expected to be a huge contributor and do big things this season, will now miss the rest of the year. Crawford missed all of last season with a torn ACL , so you can’t help but feel for the kid.

If you have a heart at all for college football players, your heart must bleed for this guy.

Another cornerback, Devin Butler remains suspended indefinitely, Kelly said Sunday night. Butler’s suspension stems from an August incident which resulted in Butler now facing two felony charges of resisting law enforcement and battering a police officer. Butler, who also has an injured left foot, has pleaded not guilty.

Safety Max Redfield was dismissed from the team during preseason camp after his arrest on gun and drug charges the very same day as Butler’s incident. 

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Junior cornerback Nick Watkins is recovering from a fractured left arm that he suffered during spring workouts. Kelly said he will undergo an X-ray this week, which will determine whether or not Watkins will take a medical red-shirt this season.

On the other side of the ball, Notre Dame can easily outscore you, and the vulnerabilities in their back seven are easily negated by a high octane offense that has settled on a QB. DeShone Kizer is the guy, and he probably always was the guy. With him under center, the ND offense will roll.

Go here for more on Notre Dame football news and notes for this one, and check out this link for the 2016 Fighting Irish season preview and predictions. 

malik mcdwoell

Guys you’ll see Saturday eventually playing on Sundays:

For ND, OT Mike McGlinchey and DL Issac Rochelle could be first round picks. (More on both at this link). For Sparty, DL Malik McDowell might have the highest value NFL Draft stock out of anyone in the B1G. Although Iowa’s Desmond King, Ohio State’s Raekwon McMillan and Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers is right up there with him.

McDowell is a 6-6 280 tour de force took home the preseason “looks the part” award from Kirk Herbstreit. McDowell was “awarded” the honor this week during “the herbies,” as the ESPN analyst was very much moved by the sight of a monstrously sized man wearing a single digit jersey.

deshone kizer

Prediction to be taken with a grain of salt (actually make that a whole truckload of salt)

ND 37, Michigan State football 31 OT 

Very rarely does anyone ever predict a game with the exact perfect score, but I did just that, in this space and live on 95.7 The Fan the last time that these two teams met. Of course, absolutely no one cares about that other than myself. Which makes sense, as predictions are like fantasy football teams, pictures of your kids and your social media accounts- it’s the most important thing to you, but no one other than yourself cares.

This game is very reminiscent of 2013 in that MSU is still trying to figure out the passing attack. Just like three years ago, you play this game towards the end of the season, then this Michigan State football team probably wins. However, it’s played early in the season, and as such I’m picking the Irish.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, partnered with FOX Sports Engage Network. and News Now. Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, currently contributes regularly to the Chicago Tribune’s RedEye publication and Bold Global.

He also consistently appears on numerous radio and television talk shows all across the country. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram and Sound Cloud.

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