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Clausen, Notre Dame survives Spartans' scare

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CFN's Instant Analysis of Saturday's Michigan State-Notre Dame game:

Clausen shining brightest among QBs

Channeling my inner Lou Holtz here ... Jimmy Clausen is the best quarterback in America right now. Tim Tebow is going to win the Heisman, Colt McCoy will come close, Sam Bradford will be the first quarterback taken in the 2010 NFL Draft and Jevan Snead will be the second, but it's Clausen who has played better than anyone else, completing 68 percent of his passes for 1,051 (throwing for 315, 336 and 300) with nine touchdowns and no interceptions. Take it back a game further when he completed 22-of-26 passes for 401 yards and five touchdowns with no interceptions against Hawaii in the Hawaii Bowl, and the numbers start to get truly impressive. He's not only showing an impressive command of the offense and amazing decision-making ability, but he's also showing his toughness, too, after hurting his foot against the Spartans. He also showed he could keep the passing game going without missing a beat after losing star WR Michael Floyd to a broken collarbone. The bandwagon will soon start to fill, and everyone will start to realize just how good the one-time, over-hyped prospect has become. Soon enough, he'll start to get his just due. His emergence is the big reason why Notre Dame is back to being tremendous, and he'll be the main reason the team keeps rolling on in its bounce-back season. — Pete Fiutak

Weis got a must-win vs. the Spartans

Phew. That was uncomfortably close for Notre Dame and head coach Charlie Weis. No matter what anyone says, Weis had to have this game. Had to. After losing in Ann Arbor and making some questionable play calls down the stretch, the heat would have been unbearable had the Irish slipped to 1-2. The distractions for the players and the staff would have reached a new level, even by Notre Dame standards. Thank you, Kirk Cousins. The Michigan State quarterback threw the most ridiculous pass with under a minute left that was picked off by Kyle McCarthy and ended what should have been no worse than an extra session for the Spartans. Bigger picture in South Bend? The defense hasn't evolved as much as it looked in the opener with Nevada. The Irish has now allowed well over 400 yards in successive weeks to offenses that aren't exactly finished products. The offense may be good enough to win a bunch of shootouts, but that's also a very dangerous recipe for a coach and a program that can't afford to be living on the edge these days. — Richard Cirminiello

Irish can't keep playing in shootouts

All credit to Notre Dame for finally stopping the mind-bending home-field hex of Michigan State. A win was an absolute necessity for the Irish, and at the end of the day, they notched the "W" instead of suffering another bewildering setback that would have created a panic atmosphere in South Bend. Nevertheless, the record indicates that Charlie Weis' team is adept at getting locked into shootouts with modestly good Big Ten teams. Not the mark of a BCS bowl squad. This club better be 11-1 at the end of the season; 10-2 (with a loss to USC) should not cut the mustard when the BCS bowl matchups are announced in early December. — Matt Zemek
Tagged: Michigan State, Mississippi, Hawaii, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Texas

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