3 Keys to a big night for Michigan State over rival Notre Dame

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NCAA Football: Michigan at Michigan State
Oct 29, 2016; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans flag bearers preform on the field prior to a game against the Michigan Wolverines at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Yessssss, it is almost the weekend, which means it’s almost game time for Michigan State and Notre Dame! The BEST Michigan State rivalry (Sorry, not sorry Wolvy).

These two teams have tremendous history against each other, beginning all the way back in 1897, the number of memorable, competitive football games between these two teams has been impressive. From the 10-10 tie in 1966, to sharing a national championship, to the 10 straight years where neither team could win at home, and all the way to Little Giants.

And of course after winning five consecutive games at South Bend, this…

They’ve played each other 15 times since 2000, 11 of the games have been decided by one possession, with MSU holding an 8-7 edge. We’ve already broken down the key positional match-ups for the game on Saturday, the game within the game if you will.

And with that I give you the three keys to… say it with me… Victory for MSUUUUU.

CAPTURE THE FLAG

The flag is Notre Dame quarterback Brandon Wimbush, and the Spartans need to keep him contained. If they don’t, it could be a long night in East Lansing as Wimbush has big-play ability with his legs. Just ask Boston College, where he ran for over 200 yards and found paydirt four times.

While that side of him can be daunting, the other side can be laughable. In that same game against the Eagles, he completed just 11 of 24 passes for 96 yards and one interception. For the Spartans to ensure themselves a victory on Saturday night, keeping Wimbush from taking off is key.

LEWERKE WINS THE BATTLE OF QBs

If Michigan State is to win this game, their chances greatly increase if Brian Lewerke can outperform Wimbush. Lewerke has been quietly very good through the first two games, showing surprising quickness and agility while accounting for three touchdowns in each of the Spartans first two games. He threw for three against Bowling Green State, and threw for one while running for two against Western Michigan. One of those, a 61-yarder up the gut after a fake hand-off.

He doesn’t need to be spectacular, but if he can continue his average of three touchdowns per game, beit his arm or his feet, Michigan State will be difficult to beat.

ADD A LITTLE KICK

Through the first two games of the season, Michigan State has not needed to attempt a field goal. That probably won’t be the case this Saturday.

Matt Coghlin is a redshirt freshman and he needs to get some work in this game if we are going to have any confidence in him later in the season. In a fantasy world, it would be great to think MSU will never need a big field goal, but reality is they will at some point, and it would be great if that some point is not his first field goal of the season. His counterpart Jake Hartbarger has been spectacular through the first two games of the season, pinning opponents deep in their own end, and averaging over 44 yards per punt.

We know Dantonio likes to have fun with his special teams and if they bring the leg this Saturday, Michigan State will be 3-0, matching last year’s season total for wins.

GAMEDAY INFO

  • Date: Saturday, September 23
  • Time: 8 p.m. ET
  • Broadcast: FOX | Spartan Radio Network (Check local listings)
  • Line: ND -3
  • O/U: 54.5

PREDICTIONS

DSN STAFF PREDICTION
EVAN JAMES BAILEY ND, 24-17
DANIEL DYLAN BAIR MSU, 31-16
MATT BASSIN MSU, 27-24
DON DRYSDALE MSU, 23-17
RYAN GRIFFIN MSU, 26-20
ALEXANDER MULLER MSU, 24-21
ROB OTTO ND, 27-17
CARL POPOSKI ND, 20-17
AJ REILLY ND, 17-14
PAUL ROCHON ND, 27-26

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