Notre Dame used a swarming defense last week to upend No. 10 ranked Michigan State and moved to 3-0 for the first time since 2002, Tyrone Willingham's first year.
The Irish defense shut down the potent Spartan running attack and its pressure helped the young and inexperienced secondary survive Michigan State's passing attack. The win was an important one for head coach Brian Kelly. It is probably his biggest win as head coach as he beat a higher ranked team.
The celebration over the victory was shortlived this week, as Kelly got the team to focus on Michigan at a Monday meeting.
The win was costly for the Irish as they lost yet another secondary player in Jamoris Slaughter, the most experienced and versatile player they had in the secondary. Slaughter suffered a tear to his Achilles tendon. It could be a career ending injury.
More on the game later.
Today the Irish face No. 18 ranked Michigan, which comes into the game 2-1. The Wolverines opened with a one-sided loss to powerhouse Alabama, 41-14, then rebounded for wins over Air Force, 31-25, and Massachusetts, 63-13.
The Wolverines are again led by Quarterback Denard Robinson, who the Irish have been unable to contain the last three years. The Wolverines spread their offense and use the run and pass equally. Robinson is more of a danger as a runner than passer, but he does both well. In the last three years he had gained over 900 yards against Notre Dame.
Michigan leads the series, 23-15-1, and won last year, 35-31. In fact, the Wolverines have won the last three, and all by four points each year.
The game will be televised nationally on NBC-TV and start at 7:40 p.m. This is the second of three straight night games for the Irish. After a break next week, ND plays a "home" game at Soldier Field in Chicago against Miami. That also has a 7:40 p.m. start on NBC.
IRISH NOTES:ND is ranked 11th in the AP poll and 15th in the coaches poll this week. The No. 11 ranking is its highest since Dec. 3, 2006....Everett Golson had his worst game as a ND starter last week. He was 14 of 32 passing and only one of 14 on third down situations. However, he did complete a 36-yard TD throw to John Goodman in the first quarter and later got a six-yard TD run. But it should be noted that MSU's defense, especially its pass defense, might be among the best in the country....TE Tyler Eifert didn't make a catch for ND, the first time since he became a starter in the 2010 season....ND's most dangerous wide receiver, DaVaris Daniels was limited in his play due to a ankle sprain he sustained during a Friday walkthrough practice....The 30 points ND has given up so far this season is the fewest for three games since the national title year of 1988....ND's defense was so dominiating last week that MSU did not run a play in the Irish red zone in the first half and only ran one play past the 50 yardline in the second half....Sophomore Matthias Farley, a converted wide receiver, will replace Slaughter in the lineup tonight....Some game stats. Cierre Wood returned to the lineup after his two game suspension and carried 10 times for 56 yards. Theo Riddick carried 12 for 30 and George Atkinson III, five for 43. Golson passing yards totaled 178. Receiving was led by TJ Jones with four catches for 59 yards, and Robby Toma, five for 58. Kicker Kyle Brindza was two for two in field goal attempts, with kicks of 29 and 47. The second was late in the fourth quarter and sealed the victory....Defensively LB Manti Te'o, playing with tremendous emotion due to the two tragedies that occurred in his life earlier in the week, had 12 tackles to lead the defense. The Irish players, especially the defensive unit, really rallied behind their senior LB. After the game Te'o said of the loss of his girlfriend and grandmother, "I'll miss them both. But, I know I'll see them both again someday"...ND held MSU's star running back, LeVeon Bell to 77 yards on 19 carriers....ND has four sacks in the game against a team that was leading the nation in giving up sacks with zero. MSU had only 50 net yards rushing....AD Jack Swarbrick denied a published report this week that ND and Connecticut are negotiating to play at historic Fenway Park in Boston during the 2014 season. Swarbrick said based on ND's annoucement of entering the ACC and arranging future schedules, no Fenway deal is being talked about....In a tribute to Manti Te'o over the death of his girlfriend and grandmother last week, the ND student section will be wearing leis tonight. The leis were distributed to the students at last night's pep rally. Another 10,000 will be given to fans entering the stadium tonight. Te'o is a native of Laie, Hawaii....Te'o was one of 30 FBS players to be selected for the 2012 Senior Class Award that honors student-athletes who excel on the field and also in the community, in character and in the classroom....Tonight's game is the 30th anniversary of the first night game ever played in ND stadium. The opponent 30 years ago was Michigan....As part of the season-long celebration of 125 years of Notre Dame football, a high-resolution, 360-degree photo will be taken during the first quarter of tonight's game. Technology will allow fans to find and tag themselves in the photo, share it with friends and win prizes. The interactive photo will be posted early next week at: http://125.nd.edu/pano . Anyone can visit the website now to input information in order to be contacted when the photo is posted....In my preseason picks I went with Michigan tonight mainly because the Irish have been unable to finish off the Wolverines in three prior games. In those games the Irish were in position to win but let the game slip away. And that was mainly due to the fact they were unable to contain Robinson. I will stay with Michigan tonight until the Irish can prove they know how to finish off an opponent and can finally control Robinson.