Notre Dame vs Michigan State

Posted: Saturday, September 20, 2008 by Travis Cody in

Notre Dame runs the opening kick back to just past the 25 yard line and runs two plays for losses. Then the Irish get a personal foul for unnecessary roughness. So after a draw on 3rd and 24, ND punts. The ball goes off the side of the kicker's foot and Michigan State takes over with good field position.

Not an auspicious beginning for the Irish.

The Spartans take advantage of Notre Dame's focus on stopping senior RB Javon Ringer, and get a big pass play for 22 yards on 2nd down. But ND steps up defensively and stops the MSU drive. The Spartans settle for a field goal and lead 3-0.

MSU holds ND to a 3 and out, but can't take advantage and punts.

The Irish have begun the game with conservative play calling...6 runs on the first 2 possessions. MSU's limited success has come through the air. But neither team has found a rhythm yet.

Here we go now! The Irish run an end around to Golden Tate that goes for 24 yards. And a few plays later, it's Clausen to Tate for 30 yards, and the Irish are driving.

Rats. Clausen throws into double coverage in the endzone and it looks like the ball is picked off. The official called it incomplete, I guess ruling that the defender wasn't in bounds when he caught the ball. But the replay looks like he pulled the ball away from the Irish receiver, got his foot down in the endzone, and then comes down on the end line.

On replay, the ruling is reversed and it's an interception in the endzone. Dangit.

MSU is really testing the Irish secondary. ND's focus is to stop Ringer, and that leaves a lot of man to man coverage on the outside. The Spartans are gouging out chunks of yardage in the passing game.

Wooooooooooooooo! Fumble! Ringer had the ball stripped and the Irish recover.

Well as conservative as the Irish were to start the game, now they've gone pass happy. Clausen misses on a short out and then a deep post, but hits on an out for 11 yards and a first down.

But on first down they can't gain any yardage on the ground, and MSU sacks Clausen on 2nd down. On 3rd and 21, the Irish run a draw that goes for 9 and ND must punt.

Notre Dame has run 8 times for 31 yards. That's not good, but even worse is that 24 of those yards came on the end around to Tate. Ringer has already got 28 yards on 6 carries for MSU.

Quick update...Florida is all over Tennessee. The Gators lead 17-0 early in the 2nd quarter.

ND pins MSU deep on it's own 4 yard line after the punt, then Ringer rattles off a couple of runs to get out to the 31. But the Spartans can't sustain the drive and are forced to punt again.

Neither team can get anything going offensively.

The Irish get a pass interference penalty against MSU, and then a good gain for a first down on a quick slant to Tate.

Now Armando Allen is able to get something on the ground to the outside. If the Irish can get runs of 3-4 yards, then that can slow down the Spartan rush and take the pressure off the passing game.

Another drive stalls and ND misses on a 51 yard field goal attempt. MSU can't do anything with the ensuing possession.

Rats! Clausen throws the ball short on an out and MSU intercepts. The Spartans have the ball on the Irish 22. But they can't get a first down.

MSU gambles on the 4th and less than 1 from just outside the 10. Ringer walks through a huge hole for the first down. But the Spartans throw 2 incomplete passes which should have brought up a 4th and goal, but the Irish are caught for pass interference and it's 1st and goal from the 2.

The Irish defense stops Ringer on 1st and 2nd down, but he gets into the endzone on the 3rd try and MSU leads 10-0.

The Irish answer the TD drive with a strong kickoff return and two completions to get past midfield. But then the inconsistencies in the offensive line start once more, and the ND drive stalls right there.

MSU closes out the half with a couple of short runs.


The Irish better figure out how to run the football effectively.