Preview: Michigan State @ Notre Dame

I hope you all took my advice last week and put your viewing effort into the Michigan-Notre Dame game and not the MSU-FAU game.  Which number is more impressive: 48 or 28?  48 would be the number of total yards MSU held FAU to for the entire game.  *Side note...I got a lot of predictions right last week, but I was wrong in not thinking that MSU's defense would hold FAU to fewer yards than Florida's did week 1.  28 is the number of seconds it took from Kickoff to endzone for Notre Dame to be the worst defense I have ever seen.

I was watching that game last week at Crunchy's and any of you Spartan fans who are familiar with my most frequented bar know that when I say I was drinking long islands at Crunchy's, the game became a little fuzzy towards the end.  What I do know is that Denard Robinson is electric, but he sucks as a quarterback.  Congratulations, Denard.  You win the September Heisman for the second year in a row.  Do it against a real defense of a team that is not the most over hyped team ever and I will respect it more.

Readers of mine know that I hate cupcake games to start the season.  This game falls into that category still.  Notre Dame is seriously the most over hyped team year after year.  They alone are proof that preseason rankings are a complete joke.  "This is our year" only works for so long before people catch on that The Irish blow.  What makes people think they're so good anyway?  Rudy was fake.  Nobody on the team liked him.  Joe Montana said so (Montana ripped apart the movie on the Dan Patrick Show last fall).  They think they're better than everybody by staying independent.  And worst off is Touchdown Jesus.

Why does everybody love the Irish?  Take a look at their recruiting classes.  They've been bringing in top class after top class year after year...supposedly.  Dave Wannstedt thinks they are squandering talent in South Bend.  I look at it a different way.  Players sign with ND and magically jump up 1 or 2 stars in their rating because they signed with Notre Dame.  That seems to work in reverse for MSU.  If you have a whole recruiting class (Jimmy Clausen) who suddenly becomes a 5 star recruit after signing with ND, then the whole class looks like the top class in the country when really it's just horribly overrated.

It's tough to get a read on just how bad Notre Dame is this year.  They're 0-2 losing to two unranked teams.  The defense we know blows.  All Denard did was chuck the ball up and say a prayer (see what I did there) that his receivers came down with the ball.  It just happened that in the 4th quarter the ND secondary forgot that they could knock the ball down, catch it themselves, or, shocker, cover somebody.  I might be giving the Michigan defensive front 4 too much credit, but I didn't think they were supposed to suck this year.  It seemed that every time I looked at the tv (remember I was drinking long islands at Crunchy's) #20 was busting runs to the second level.  That would be Cierre Woods and he has rushed for over 100 yards in both of ND's games this year.

That does scare me.  FAU is not a good barometer for a defense.  If Notre Dame's recruits were not overrated and just sucked balls for Charlie Weis, this could get scary for MSU.  The Spartan defensive line was much better last week, but like I said, you can't get a good look into how well they played against that team.  The offensive line will continue to scare me until the end of the season.  I was mocked because of my optimism about MSU and I quickly retorted that it's not Big Ten season yet.  That will change everything.  Notre Dame isn't Big Ten, but their lines should be on that level.

If the offensive line gives Kirk Cousins any time to throw imagine the numbers he can put up.  Look at what non-quarterback Denard Robinson did last week.  Imagine what the combo of Cousins-Cunningham can do when they run real routes and have actually timing throws rather than just "go deep."  The only problem is that I fear we won't have a set starting 5 on the OLine for must of the season.  It's great to build depth for the future but blows for the present.

The biggest worry when playing Notre Dame is Michael Floyd.  And the biggest worry for him is if he'll be sober enough to drive to the stadium.  Sorry, that was a cheapshot.  A deserved one though.  Once he does get on the field along with fellow WR Theo Riddick he does scare me.  I'm not worried because I think Johnny Adams will take the spotlight and prove to more than just me and himself that he is going to be the shutdown corner he wants to be.  On the other side of the field I think Darqueze Dennard will be fine too.  He is somewhat overlooked but he is a stud in the making.  What worries me are the MSU safeties.  Isaiah Lewis has been great stuffing the run and making big hits.  The problem is that he likes to come up and make plays on the run.  The other problem is that Trenton Robinson likes to get burned in pass coverage.  Those two together don't lend much help to the corners who will be tested for the first time tomorrow.

The thing to remember is that even if the secondary does get burned for a deep play, Notre Dame is sure to turn the ball over on the next play.  They do lead the nation in turnovers and make a ton of them in the redzone.  That's enough to make a normal coach pissed let alone the furious Irishman Brian Kelly.

What to watch for once the game starts: How will the MSU defensive line matchup against the best offensive line they've seen yet?  Much like last week I want to see more pressure on the quarterback and along with that I want to see 4 guys who can manage to stay in for a whole series.  It was easy last week when they forced 3 and out after 3 and out.  I don't care who is in, I just want to see productivity.  Worthy and White have shown they can lock down the middle.  Now it's time for 2 of the 4 defensive ends, William Gholston, Tyler Hoover, Denzel Drone, and Marcus Rush to make some noise of their own and lock down a starting spot.

The other thing I'm looking for in the game is the solidification of a premier running back.  Edwin Baker had 2 100 yard rushing games at this point last season and Le'Veon Bell added his second 100+ yard game against ND.  They have combined for just 250 yards through 2 games this season.  That's going to make it tough for Rock to reach 2,000.  One of them (or both...hell I'll even accept all three) needs to break the century mark tomorrow and bust one long run.  Those three top tier running backs are proof that when your offensive line sucks, you can't run the ball.

Before I make my drinking prediction I have one game watching etiquette point to make.  If anybody you're watching the game with calls for "Little Giants" punch him in the face.  I'm serious.  We all know about the play from last year.  This could get a little interesting for me since I will be watching the game during a family reunion.  "Sorry, Nana.  I know you're trying to impress me with your football knowledge but I now have to punch you in the face."  She'll understand.

Now for my drinking prediction.  What I'm drinking is much less interesting than the Heineken I had last week.  Since I'm at my parents in Lapeer for the aforementioned family reunion and my parents might be the only civilized people in the country that don't have the internet, I am sitting in the lobby of the Lapeer McDonald's writing this.  I feel high class.  I am drinking a powerade because I felt guilty sitting here using their internet without buying anything.  I predict many turnovers for Notre Dame.  Tommy Rees is not the answer at quarterback for the desperate Brian Kelly.  Too bad for him that neither is Dayne Crist.  Andrew Maxwell will be brought in for experience in the 2nd quarter and throw a pick.  There's no need to get him ready by doing that.  I don't like switching QBs drive to drive.  Edwin Baker will monster truck Manti Te'o on his way to a 50 yard TD run taking his total on the day to 162 yards.

Finally, MSU will beat the Irish in South Bend (again) 34-21.  Dan Conroy, that means you need to make 2 FGs for me...or miss an extra point.  There must be something in this powerade because I normally stay away from predicting scores.  I guess it's just my optimism coming through.  I don't like this feeling.

Go Green, and sincerely FND.

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