Friday, September 21, 2007

Michigan State at Notre Dame Preview

Michigan State University
Spartans (3-0)

Ranking: unranked
Head Coach: Mark Dantonio
Coaching Record: 3-0, 1st season (21-17 overall as head coach in NCAA)
Last Year: 4-8 (1-7 Big Ten)
Last Week: Beat Pittsburgh, 17-13


University of Notre Dame
Fighting Irish (0-3)

Head Coach: Charlie Weis
Coaching Record: 19-9, 3rd season
Last Year: 10-3, Lost to Louisiana State in Allstate Sugar Bowl (#17 AP / #19 Coaches postseason ranking)
Last Week: Lost to Michigan, 38-0

Location: Notre Dame Stadium (aka The House That Rock Built)
Date and Time: September 22, 2007 3:43 p.m.
Series Record: Notre Dame leads 44-25-1

Notre Dame Quarterback and Receivers vs. Michigan State Secondary
Jimmy has handled his beating the first two weeks even better than Brady Quinn took his beatings as a true freshman. And his beatings have been far worse. That said, he hasn't been given an opportunity to show his skills as a quarterback.
Michigan State's pass defense is top 20 statistically right now, but they haven't played any heavyweights yet.
Combine all of that with the fact that We went back to training camp this week, and I just don't know what to believe.
Edge: unknown

Notre Dame Running Backs and Tight Ends vs. Michigan State Linebackers
Very similar to the passing game analyzed above, the running backs we have have looked good when given a hole, but haven't been given many holes.
Michigan State's defense has looked good against some lightweight competition.
We were in training camp mode this week.
Edge: unknown

Notre Dame Offensive Line vs. Michigan State Defensive Line
The biggest unknown of this training camp mentality is the improvements on the offensive line.
That said, Rome wasn't built in a day.
We are dead last in sacks given up.
Michigan State is first in the nation in sacks.
Edge: Michigan State

Notre Dame Defensive Line vs. Michigan State Offensive Line
Our defense has struggled late in games, and was beat up pretty good by Michigan's dominant O-line. However, this week's hitting in practice should be exactly what was needed to kickstart our intensity on defense.
Edge: Notre Dame

Notre Dame Linebackers vs. Michigan State Running Backs and Tight Ends
Three weeks. Three big games by opposing running backs. Notre Dame has never shown an ablity to consistently tackle Caulcrick.
Edge: Michigan State

Notre Dame Secondary vs. Michigan State Quarterbacks and Receivers
Michigan State's pass offense has been relatively anemic under their first year signal caller. That said, a true freshman in his very first start gashed us just last week.
Edge: Notre Dame (barely)

Notre Dame Coaches vs. Michigan State Coaches
Quote from last week: "I'm giving Weis the edge this week, but if he can't move the ball on this awful defense, I'm gong to stop defending him against everyone. Including Duke." I like Coach's approach this week, and he's facing a rookie coach at MSU, but I'm a man of my word.
Edge: Michigan State

Quarterback and Receivers vs. Secondary: Edge Unknown
Running Backs and Tight Ends vs. Linebackers: Edge Unknown
Offensive Line vs. Defensive Line: Edge Michigan State
Defensive Line vs. Offensive Line: Edge Notre Dame
Linebackers vs. Running Backs and Tight Ends: Edge Michigan State
Secondary vs. Quarterbacks and Receivers: Edge Notre Dame (barely)
Coaches vs. Coaches: Edge Michigan State

Analysis and Prediction

Notre Dame has never started a season 0-4.

Notre Dame has never lost to an opponent 6 straight times in Notre Dame stadium.

There has been nothing I've seen on the field that leads me to believe that the Irish have any hope of winning this game. They look outmatched. They look undercoached. They look confused and lethargic.

However, having failed so miserably at back-to-back brutal stadiums and feeling like they've let Notre Dame Nation down, they are coming home.

When they emerge from that tunnel, they will feel the true spirit of Notre Dame. As Coach Holtz once stated so eloquently, Notre Dame is special because "people care about you not just because you win or because things go well, but they genuinely care."

And we do. I'll be there tomorrow, but not to cheer for my team. Sure, I'll go through all of the motions, dancing the jig and doing leprechaun arms. But more importantly, my family needs me. I'll be there to support my brothers out on that field who came to Notre Dame for the same reasons I did. I know the pride that these players have in their school. I know that they feel the weight of history firmly on their shoulders. And I know that they came here so they could pursue excellence in everything for the glory of Notre Dame.

I'll be there. And so will 80,000 strong of the Notre Dame family.

Tomorrow is about more than X's and O's. It's about more than winning or losing. It's about pride. And tomorrow afternoon, at 3:30 p.m., when those golden helmets run out onto the field, the Fightin' Irish faithful will shake down the thunder.

Forget predictions. Forget scores. Forget statistics lke rushing yards and sacks given up. Forget breakdowns and matchups. This game is about waking up the echoes and restoring our pride.

What 'tho the odds...

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