Michigan State got up to a massive lead and was able to hang on against a game Notre Dame team. What are the 5 Things That Matter in the big Spartan win?
Michigan State 36, Notre Dame 28: 5 Things That Matter
This is what Michigan State is built for
The Spartans might have gone ultra-conservative after getting out to a big lead, but just when it started to slip away with the Irish roaring back, the Spartan D came up with the sack it had to have, and Tyler O’Connor came up with the third down throw it had to make to Donnie Corley. It might not have been easy and clean, but Michigan State just beat Notre Dame in South Bend.
DeShone Kizer almost did it all by himself
Notre Dame has the possible No. 1 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, and Kizer was turned loose as he almost pulled out the miracle comeback – he didn’t have enough time against the Spartan rush at the end.
He completed 20-of-37 passes for 344 yards and two scores and ran for two touchdowns, and he had to with the Irish offensive front not providing any help whatsoever. Josh Adams didn’t have any room to move, and Tarean Folston only ran four times for 14 yards. Considering Notre Dame has one of the nation’s better offensive lines, it should’ve been able to do something, anything to take the pressure off No. 14.
Tyler O’Connor on the road
How do you get teammates and fans to love you? Win really, really big games on the road. O’Connor has the win over Ohio State last year on the resume, and now he has a terrific performance against Notre Dame, too, completing 19-of-26 passes for 241 yards and two scores with a pick, while running for 43 yards on ten carries.
He threw a pick, but what’ll go unnoticed was a third-down wormburner he tossed on the second-to-last drive when nothing was there. He didn’t force it and potentially give the ball away. He threw it in the dirt, and let his defense do its job when the momentum had shifted. Being a game manager might be a negative, but O’Connor managed this game to near perfection.
Notre Dame is 0-for-2 against the thump
The Irish adjusted to Texas in the second half, but they couldn’t handle the pounding in the fourth quarter and overtime. Against Michigan State, the Irish D was fine once the Spartans shut it down with the big lead, but to get hit with 260 rushing yards and five yards per carry isn’t okay. This Notre Dame team should be able to handle itself against the tougher teams, but it couldn’t in the first three weeks.
What Does This All REALLY Mean?
Here’s the crazy part – this was it in terms of tough road games for Michigan State. With Indiana, Illinois, Maryland and Penn State left, the Spartans are in the Big Ten title game if they take care of things in East Lansing. However, Wisconsin is going to be a very, very tough out next week.
Notre Dame is simply playing out the string now with the College Football Playoff hopes gone. It’ll be an interesting few weeks with Duke and Syracuse up next, and then the one decent road game until the end against USC having to go to NC State. They’ll roll, but at best they can hope for a New Year’s Six game now.