On Saturday night, No. 20 Notre Dame and No. 10 Michigan State will meet in a highly anticipated matchup between undefeated rivals.
Notre Dame is riding the high of a last second victory over Purdue that has sparked a fresh set of questions about the Fighting Irish's quarterback conundrum. Meanwhile, Michigan State cruised to a 41-7 victory over Central Michigan that featured a dominating performance on both sides of the ball.
As Michigan State's special teams has attempted fake field goals with varying degrees of success in each of their previous two meetings, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly should consider patting down Mark Dantoni during the pregame to account for any tricks he has up his sleeve.
Although offensive trickery has made headlines in the previous matchups, Michigan State's defense enters the weekend eighth in yards allowed from scrimmage. However, Notre Dame has a formidable frontline of its own led by nose guard Louis Nix and defensive end Louis Tuitt. They also boast a +4 turnover differential, which should come in handy against Maxwell, who threw three picks in the season opener against Boise State.
Keys To Victory
1. William Gholston Pressuring Everett Golson
2. 25 or More Carries For Le'Veon Bell- Bell is a bruiser. If he continues hitting the hole with reckless abandon, Notre Dame's defenders will wear down.
3. Cierre Wood
Players To Watch:
Manti Te'o - Notre Dame's star linebacker Manti Te'o will be playing with a heavy heart after the death of his girlfriend and grandmother over the past week. Teo keyed last season's victory over the Spartans in which the Spartans were held to just 29 rushing yards.
Le'Veon Bell - Last season, Bell was helpless to aid the sputtering Spartan offense as Kirk Cousins threw the ball 53 times but handed the ball to Bell just seven times for 26 yards. The gameplan Saturday should be an 180 degree reversal. Through the first two weeks of the regular season, Maxwell is averaging 35 passes per game, slightly more than Bell's 31 carries per contest.
Andrew Maxwell- The Spartans starting quarterback threw three picks against Boise State.
Everett Golson - Aside from the battle near the line of scrimmage between Te'o and Bell, the focus on Notre Dame's sideline will revolve around the two quarterbacks Tommy Rees and Everett Golson. Golson has started all three games this season but Rees, who was demoted in the offseason after being convicted of assault on a police officer, led Notre Dame's game-winning drive against Purdue.
This is becoming eerily reminiscent of Les Miles' handling of the Jarrett Lee/Jordan Jefferson last season. With the pressure Rees is applying on the starting job it's only a matter of time before Golson gets yanked after a slow start. Tonight may be that night.
Cierre Wood - Last season's leading rusher was suspended for the first two games of last season but will return to bring stability to the Fighting Irish's tepid rushing attack.
PREDICTION: Nine of the last 12 contests have been decided by a touchdown or less. Saturday should be no different. Michigan State wins 24-17.
Time: 8 p.m. ET
Where To Watch: NBC
Live Stream: FirstRow Sports