Under the lights in a national spotlight, the 10th-ranked Spartans had a chance to really impress in a major way against No. 20 Notre Dame, but they dropped their chance — literally — in a 20-3 loss.
Michigan State dropped six passes — including one in the end zone that went in and out of the hands of Bennie Fowler — and just could not make a big play on offense or defense.
“It’s an eye opener,” Michigan State linebacker Max Bullough said. “As much of an eye opener as it was last year, it is this year. There were missed opportunities as much as there was of anything.”
On the defensive side, Bullough couldn’t hang on to a diving interception on a wobbly pass from Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson. Chris Norman dropped a ball that was tipped into the air shortly after that.
Meanwhile, Golson made a couple big plays for the Irish that resulted in two touchdowns and enough to hand the Spartans their first home loss since 2009, ending a streak of 15 wins in a row.
The Spartans, seemingly just one big play away through most of the game, gave up both scores when Golson broke away from the defensive containment — one ending in a long pass to tight end Jeff Goodman and the other ending in a short touchdown scamper by Golson. Both touchdown drives covered just 51 yards, as the Irish worked with short fields on each one.
Michigan State came out and tried to establish the run, but couldn’t get the ground game going early and put the ball in Andrew Maxwell’s hands. But with starting right tackle Fou Fonoti out with a foot injury (six-to-10 weeks), the Irish put plenty of pressure on the MSU quarterback.
“Obviously when you have a front seven like they have,” Maxwell said, “then they can get a lot of pressure without sending a lot of blitzes; that’s going to cause some problems for an offense.”
Maxwell was sacked four times in the game after not being sacked in the first two games of the season. The Spartans rotated through offensive linemen, playing seven total — including Ethan Ruhland, who got his first career start at left guard.
The Spartans only allowed the Irish to convert one third down (1-of-14), while holding them to 300 total yards.
Keith Mumphery led the Spartans with six catches for 71 yards. Bell had 77 yards on 19 carries.