Notre Dame vs. Michigan State: Breaking Down Saturday's Prime-Time Matchup

Donald Wood@@Donald_WoodFeatured ColumnistSeptember 15, 2012

NOTRE DAME, IN - SEPTEMBER 17:  Michael Floyd #3 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish catches the ball while Darqueze Dennard #31 of the Michigan State Spartans works to break up the pass during the first half September 17, 2011at Notre Dame Stadium in Notre Dame, Indiana. (Photo by John Gress/Getty Images)
John Gress/Getty Images

When the No. 20 Notre Dame Fighting Irish square off against the No. 10 Michigan State Spartans Saturday, it will be one of the most anticipated games on the college football schedule for Week 3.

Notre Dame is trying to build off its close 20-17 win against Purdue from Week 2 while holding off a Michigan State team that destroyed Central Michigan 41-7.

With both teams ranked and undefeated, this is as exciting as a Week 3 matchup could ever be.

If you love college football, this meeting will offer everything you need on a Saturday night to keep you satisfied.


Where: Spartan Stadium; East Lansing, Mich.

When: Saturday, Sept. 15 at 8 p.m. ET

Watch: ABC

Live Stream: Watch ESPN

Radio: Free Football Radio


Players to Watch

Le'Veon Bell, RB (Michigan State)

In just two games so far in 2012, Spartans running back Le'Veon Bell has amassed 280 yards and four touchdowns on 62 attempts. While those numbers are fantastic, they are misleading.

Bell touched the ball 50 times against the Boise State Broncos in what was a tight 17-13 win for Michigan State, causing many to question the dependence on the junior runner. In the Spartans' next game, Bell only touched the ball 19 times and the team won 41-7.

The key for Michigan State Saturday night and for the rest of the season will be finding that harmonious balance between the rushing and passing games. That starts and ends with Bell keeping his per-rush average above five.


Everett Golson, QB (Notre Dame)

Notre Dame sophomore quarterback Everett Golson has been thrown into the fire after the team's starting quarterback, Tommy Rees, was suspended to open the season. With a stellar performance, Golson has won the starting job, and Rees will come off the bench as needed.

While the young quarterback's performance in his first game against Navy wasn't all that impressive, the pressure on Golson and the trip to Ireland made it tough. After getting the nod in Week 2, he made it clear to the coaching staff that he belonged as the starter.

If Golson continues to protect the ball from poor turnovers and keeps his high completion percentage up, the Fighting Irish will be forced to let him start as long as he earns it.

The QB battle in Notre Dame just got even more interesting.


Andrew Maxwell, QB (Michigan State)

For Michigan State Spartans starting quarterback Andrew Maxwell, the first two games of the 2012 season couldn't have been any more different.

While the junior passed for about the same yards in the first two games of the year (248 and 275, respectively), he went from throwing three interceptions and no touchdowns in Week 1 to two touchdowns and no interceptions in Week 2.

If the No. 10 Spartans want to beat the Fighting Irish and move into the discussion as one of the top teams in college football, they need Maxwell to protect the football and move the chains.

Add in the strong Michigan State running attack, and the Spartans will be tough to beat.


Check back for more on the NCAA football as it comes, and don’t miss Bleacher Report’s college football page to get your fill of college football.