NCAA Football: What I Learned From Notre Dame-Michigan State

Alan BassSenior Writer ISeptember 19, 2010

Note: I do not have a favorite school. I enjoy seeing certain schools have success, but never do I cheer for a specific football program to succeed. I simply watch the games. 

After watching the Michigan State Spartans host the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, there were some positives and negatives coming out from each sideline.

Continuing this regular segment, I go through the standout players, those that need work and tendencies of each team that must be praised or fixed.


That Was One of the Greatest Endings I’ve Ever Seen

Okay, the Appalachian State-Michigan game a few years ago was a little better. But this was a classic.

First, what a gutsy call by Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio to risk losing the game by going for a 30-yard pass on fourth down. And executed perfectly, with no Notre Dame defenders buying the fake, watching Charlie Gantt catch the lob with ease, then jog it into the Notre Dame marching band was simply a classic.

Did anyone see the looks on the faces of the marching band? Looked like all of them wanted to sacrifice their instruments on Gantt’s helmet.


Dane Crist Improved—A Lot.

Okay, true, they passed the ball 55 times. But Notre Dame’s passing game was incredible.

Crist passed for 369 yards and four touchdowns, while four Notre Dame receivers surpassed 70 yards receiving (and three had touchdown catches). Crist did throw one interception, but altogether, he looked extremely composed and calm in the pocket.

He was willing to run the ball when needed to (six rushing attempts for eight yards), but was also willing to sacrifice a down and take a hit in the pocket—which is better than throwing the ball up and risking an interception, something too many college quarterbacks do.


Michigan State’s Rushing Game Thrived, Specifically When Notre Dame’s Defense Failed

You don’t rush for 203 yards unless you’re good.

With Le’Veon Bell rushing for 114 and Edwin Baker rushing for 90, Michigan State clearly has the talent in the backfield. But Notre Dame’s inability to defend the rush sealed their fate from the get go.

Though only two of Michigan State’s five touchdowns came from the ground, it was precisely the rushing game that allowed the Spartans to move the ball down the field drive after drive.


Michigan State’s Passing Wasn’t Too Shabby, Either

Passing for 274 yards? Yeah, that’s pretty good.

Two receivers had more than 95 yards receiving, and three receivers caught touchdown passes. Nine players had at least one reception in the game as well. When you can spread the ball around the field like that, you increase your chances of winning a fair amount—and hey, Michigan State came out of this game on top.


Alan Bass is a writer for The Hockey News and In addition to writing for Inside Hockey and Pro Hockey News, he has also worked for the Philadelphia Flyers. He is the General Manager of the Muhlenberg College hockey team as well. You can contact him at