|(ND and MSU roll into this top 25 matchup with 2-0 records. Both teams also have an easy blowout win and a victory coming by four points or less, Photo: John Gress)|
With two games behind them, the Fighting Irish are 2-0 and ranked 20th in the nation as they prepare for a Saturday road game against 10th-ranked Michigan State. After barely pulling off a win against the Purdue Boilermakers last week , there is quite a bit of concern headed into this showdown. Notre Dame leads the series with Michigan State, 46-28-1, including 18-15-1 in East Lansing. Both teams enter the match-up undefeated for the first time since 2005.
While Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly admitted in his press conference Tuesday that his team did not play its best game against Purdue, the good news is that the Irish did come out of that lackluster performance with a win. A year ago that might have been a loss, so some improvement has been shown by Kelly’s squad.
Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson had flashes of brilliance last week mixed with less than stellar moments. While his overall performance against Purdue was still impressive given it was his second collegiate start (21-of-31 completions for 289 yards and one touchdown), there is still room for improvement.
After running the ball up at will against Navy (293 yards total rushing), Notre Dame’s running game evaporated against Purdue with just 52 yards. Notre Dame knew that Purdue’s defensive line would be significantly larger than Navy’s, but that alone should not have limited the Irish rushing attack. The lack of success on the ground forced Golson to try to become more of a factor, putting unnecessary stress on a young quarterback. Kelly also hopes to get running back George Atkinson III more touches this week. The Irish faithful are also anxiously awaiting the return of running back Cierre Wood, who missed the first two games due to “violating team rules.”
Read the rest of my Notre Dame-Michigan State preview at NoCoastBias.com: Hate State Week