No. 20 Notre Dame beats No. 10 Michigan State 20-3

Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio has tried to downplay how

high his team has been ranked this season.

After No. 20 Notre Dame showed the 10th-ranked Spartans weren’t

worthy of their lofty status, Dantonio lamented that his point was


”Rankings are for people drinking the Kool-Aid,” he said.

Everett Golson threw a touchdown pass and ran for a score in the

first half to help Notre Dame beat Michigan State 20-3 Saturday


The Fighting Irish (3-0) snapped a six-game losing streak

against ranked teams and beat a top-10 opponent for the first time

in seven years when they beat Michigan.

The Spartans (2-1) had won 15 straight at home. The streak

included a win over the Irish in 2010 on a fake field goal in

overtime that preceded Dantonio having a heart attack.

”Football can define you,” Dantonio said. `We’re at a little

bit of a defining moment.”

Michigan State had its worst showing on offense at home since

losing 20-3 to Central Michigan in 1991.

Notre Dame had a lot to do with it, sacking Andrew Maxwell four

times, breaking up eight of his passes and preventing Le’Veon Bell

from finding room to run.

”It was frustrating because that isn’t the identity of this

offense,” Maxwell said. ”We were in third-and-long almost every


Golson was 14 of 32 for 178 yards and a TD, a 36-yard pass to

John Goodman. He ran for a 6-yard TD early in the second quarter to

give Notre Dame a 14-0 lead.

”He made some big plays for us early which put us in a good

position,” Kelly said.

Maxwell was 23 of 45 for 187 yards and Bell had 77 yards rushing

on 19 carries for the Spartans.

The Irish shook off a sloppy start that included George Atkinson

running into a teammate on a kickoff return, a false start and a

timeout before their first snap.

Golson missed an opportunity to connect with wide-open receiver

Chris Brown on what would’ve been a TD, but the first-year starter

made up for it with his arm and legs.

On Notre Dame’s second drive, Golson eluded a rush as he rolled

to the right and threw back across the field on a 36-yard TD pass

to Goodman for a 7-0 lead.

Maxwell threw a pass on the ensuing possession into the end zone

that Bennie Fowler dropped in what proved to be the Spartans’ best

shot to score more than a field goal.

Maxwell didn’t have as much time to pass as he did in wins over

Boise State and Central Michigan, and Bell couldn’t run all over

the Irish as he did in the opener against the Broncos.

Maxwell was sacked three times in the second quarter – after not

getting sacked in his first two games – and one of those hits

behind the line forced a punt that gave Notre Dame good field

position. Golson took advantage, scoring on a 6-yard run on a play

that was designed to be a pass to cap a 51-yard drive and give the

Irish a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter.

Michigan State responded with a 13-play drive that ended with

Dan Conroy making a 50-yard field goal to match his career high and

make it 14-3 late in the first half.

The Spartans had a shot to force Notre Dame to punt early in the

fourth, but Cierre Wood went left and cut back to the right on a

26-yard gain that seemed to deflate a team and crowd that didn’t

have much to cheer about all night.

Fans started to fill the aisles when Wood converted a

fourth-and-1 from the Michigan State 37 with an 8-yard run to the

outside. Kyle Brindza made a 29-yard field goal at the end of a

time-consuming drive that took 6:21 off the clock and gave the

Irish a 17-3 lead.

Michigan State’s slim comeback hopes were dashed when Bell was

going out of bounds and his lateral was caught by linebacker Manti

Te’o with 4:20 left in the game to set up Brindza’s 47-yard field

goal that made it 20-3. Te’o had a game-high 12 tackles, one for a

loss, and broke up two passes, playing just a few days after the

deaths of his girlfriend, who had a long battle with leukemia, and

his grandmother.

Notre Dame won its second straight in the series by more than a

TD after nine of the previous 11 were closely contested.

Michigan State’s defense gave up two TDs in the first half after

not allowing one in the first two games. The unit improved as the

game went on, but couldn’t overcome offensive teammates that failed

to move the ball consistently against Notre Dame’s stingy


”Tough day at the office, I guess you’d say,” Dantonio


The Spartans’ lackluster showing will have them slipping in the


Dantonio blamed himself for not having his team ready for a

tough test.

”It’s everything from everybody and it starts here,” he


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