It seems that this current age of Notre Dame football has nothing to do with offensive players that will go down in history. Tommy Rees isn’t the answer to last year’s problem, and Cam McDaniel isn’t the guy who’ll torch the field with his feet. However, there’s enough spirit, defense and hustle to get through games in which the opponent isn’t going to do much better either.
In one of the sloppiest and less attractive football games in week 4, Notre Dame improved to 3-1 this season as they beat Michigan State, a team that’s built on the same principles as the Irish are 17-13. Michigan State could have won the game if they wouldn’t have been too scared to go for the touchdown in the fourth quarter, but coming away with the W in such a slugfest usually involves creativity and guts. Notre Dame had a bit more of both, giving the Spartans their first loss of the season.
Michigan State will have plenty of things to weep about and feel like they could have done better at the end of the day. Giving R.J. Shelton a chance at playing quarterback led to an interception that gave Notre Dame the chance to set up their go-ahead touchdown, a 7-yard run by McDaniel at the beginning of the fourth quarter. There were all the pass interference calls that sucked the life out of the game, but head coach Brian Kelly didn’t mind them, especially because he won.
When you know the quarterback is going to throw it back shoulder, and the defensive back doesn’t know where it is, you have an advantage in that situation. You’re going to get some pass interference calls when you put the ball in a good position.
Interesting explanation, but the win comes down to making fewer big mistakes than the Spartans, who have the interception to think about. Tommy Rees had a terrible performance with 14-of-34 for 142 yards and one touchdown pass, which comes after throwing for over 300 yards in each of his first three games this season. Not making mistakes in a game that was too close to call is something that slightly makes up for a bad throwing performance.
The Irish won their 10th straight home game, a feat they have not accomplished in 14 years; they’re now 12-0 under Brian Kelly when they don’t turn the ball over; and they’ve won their last seven games decided by one score. It won’t get them to the national championship game like last season, but that loss to Michigan might not be such a terrible occurrence as it seemed to be two weeks ago.
I think both defenses really carried the day here today. I think Michigan State has a great defense. They’re very difficult to play against in so many fashions. If you would have asked me last week about what this kind of game was going to be, it wasn’t going to be a beauty contest. I felt like it was going to be this kind of game. We know how to win close games. That’s something we’ve done for a while now. I think all the guys understood what it took to close out a close one.