Notre Dame has made headlines this week with their big move to the ACC, but on the more immediate horizon is the school's big game Saturday against No. 10 Michigan State.
The Spartans are a formidable opponent for Brian Kelly's Irish, and with one of the best offensive players in the country and a potent run defense, yards and points will be hard to come by for the Irish. With that in mind, I expect the Irish to do everything in their power to hang with their Big Ten opponent, and come out with a surprising victory.
We all know Le'Veon Bell and the damage he can do to any good defense. So far, the Spartan star has rushed for 280 yards and four touchdowns, and appears to be on pace to have another sensational season. The Irish, however, have a few stud players on the defensive side who can disrupt Bell and make it difficult for the Spartans to control the clock and move the ball with ease.
Irish linebacker Manti Te'o and safety Zeke Motta should be huge factors for a Notre Dame defense that currently ranks 37th in the country, having given up 314.5 yards per game. Notre Dame switched to a 3-4 defense this year, and although that means giving the safeties a better chance at making plays in the secondary, I wouldn't be surprised to see him making plays on Bell before he can reach the second and third level.
Defensive end Stephen Tuitt has also shown promise off the edge, with four sacks in two games already. These three will clearly have to play the best games of their careers in order to stop the Spartans, but don't put that past this plucky defense.
Who will have the biggest game for the Irish on Saturday night?
Offensively, the Irish plan on starting Everett Golson, who already has 433 yards and two touchdowns this season. Many fans expect to see backup Tommy Rees at some point, but Golson is athletic and can make things happen for the Irish. Regardless, a combination of these two quarterbacks could keep Michigan State coaches on their heels all game.
The Spartans have allowed a total of 109 rushing yards in two games, but the Irish will be returning senior running back Cierre Wood, who had 1,102 yards and nine touchdowns last year.
Michigan State looks like a difficult team to beat right now, but with the way the Irish have played and the contributions they've received on both sides of the ball, I expect them to pull off a major upset and take down the Spartans on the road.