No. 12 Spartans hold on for 36-28 win over No. 18 Irish
Michigan State running back Gerald Holmes (24) celebrates his touchdown with tight end Josiah Price during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Notre Dame, Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016, in South Bend, Ind. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) Tyler O'Connor threw for two touchdowns, Gerald Holmes ran for two more, including a 73-yard score, and No. 12 Michigan State took advantage of mistakes by No. 18 Notre Dame and held on for a 36-28 victory Saturday night.
The Spartans (2-0) turned what had been a close game at halftime into a 29-point lead with three third-quarter touchdowns. But Notre Dame made it close as DeShone Kizer threw for two touchdowns and ran for another and the Irish (1-2) cut the lead to 36-28 with 6:02 left on a 12-yard touchdown pass to tight end Durham Smythe.
On Notre Dame's next possession, Kizer was sacked for a 5-yard loss by Raequan Williams on third-and-2 and Notre Dame punted with 3:37 left in the game and the Spartans ran out the clock.
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Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said he couldn't recall the last time the Spartans dominated as they had late in the second quarter and early in the third.
''It got tougher and tougher in the fourth quarter running the football. … They kept playing and fought their way back into the football game right there at the end.''
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said the mistakes were too much.
''We got too far behind. When you get into that kind of hole it's hard to dig out of,'' he said.
O'Connor, a fifth-year senior making his third career start, was 19 of 26 passing for 241 yards and one interception on a deflected pass. Kizer threw for a career-high 344 yards, completing 20 of 37 passes with one interception with heavy pressure at times from the Spartans.
MICHIGAN STATE: Michigan State's offense showed there was no need for concern after an unimpressive opening-game victory over FCS Furman, beating Notre Dame to end a three-game losing streak to the Irish. Good pressure by Michigan State's front seven and good coverage by the secondary kept Kizer scrambling at times and the Irish couldn't get their running game going.
NOTRE DAME: Mistakes hurt the Irish from the start, with an opening kickoff return for a touchdown by C.J. Sanders being called back on a holding penalty by Jalen Elliott. A bouncing punt hit Notre Dame's Miles Boykins and was recovered by Michigan State long snapper Collin Caflisch at the Notre Dame 38 early, and Sanders fumbled at the end of 19-yard catch that Michigan State linebacker Jon Reschke recovered. Fans booed Notre Dame with 5 minutes left in the third quarter following a pair of runs for no gain.
MICHIGAN STATE: The Spartans begin Big Ten play hosting Wisconsin, which they haven't faced since a 16-13 overtime victory in 2012 to end the Badgers' 21-game home winning streak.
NOTRE DAME: The Irish begin a stretch of three straight games against Atlantic Coast Conference teams, which Notre Dame is a member in for most sports aside from football, when it plays Duke. Notre Dame is 3-1 all-time against the Blue Devils.
Online: AP College Football site: http://collegefootball.ap.org