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After giving up 35 points to Michigan last Saturday—28 of which came in the fourth quarter—there aren't too many people excited about what is ahead for the Notre Dame defense.
The Irish secondary needs to work on its deep-ball coverages after getting burned by a few bombs sent from Denard Robinson, but the team won't have many chances to do so against a Michigan State offense that likes to pound the ball on the ground.
Luckily for the Irish, with superb linebacker corps, the ground-and-pound approach plays to Notre Dame's advantage.
And by allowing a dynamic group of freshmen to play extended minutes, Notre Dame will become more explosive, a crucial quality the Irish haven't yet exhibited.
However, stopping the Michigan State offense won't be an easy task. While the Spartans' offensive attack has not been as potent as their top-ranked defense, but the team did return a group of solid veterans, including quarterback Kirk Cousins, who is a high-percentage passer and will test a Notre Dame defense that collapsed late in the game last week in Ann Arbor.
The team's two leading rushers, Edwin Baker and Le'Veon Bell, will carry the Michigan State's ground game, and the two running backs will shoulder a large part of the offensive load.
Michigan State ranks 48th in passing with 241.5 yards per game and 42nd in rushing with 173.5 per contest. While it isn't atop the FBS in offense, Michigan State has enough weapons to hang with Notre Dame.
Notre Dame will have to focus heavily on stopping the run and breaking up short passes underneath. The Irish can't let Michigan State control the clock if they want to undermine the Spartans' game plan.
With a defense embarrassed by a loss in Ann Arbor, and a few game-changing freshmen that will see the field early, the Notre Dame defense will come out of the tunnel energized from the opening snap.