Michigan State (3-0) at Notre Dame (2-1) (3:30 p.m. ET, on NBC)
Line: Notre Dame -5 (Bovada)
Last Meeting: 2012: 20-3 ND
3 Players to Watch:
1) Connor Cook (QB, MSU):Cook will get his third career start this week against Notre Dame. Last week he finished 15 for 22 for 202 yards and 4 touchdowns. In response, coach Dantonio has stated that Cook will be the “guy” from now on. Sure Connor looked good against Youngstown State, but Notre Dame will be a real test. It will be interesting to see how he can run the offense in his first true road start. I am not very confident in him but we will see how he responds to the tough environment in South Bend.
2) DaVaris Daniels(WR, ND): Daniels has had a hot start to the new season and exploded with 8 receptions for 167 yards and two touchdowns in Notre Dame’s win last week against Purdue. DaVaris has already accumulated 299 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns throughout the first three games. Listed at 6’2” and weighing 203 lbs., Daniels is not a small receiver and will be an interesting match for Darqueze Dennard and the MSU secondary. If Tommy Rees can find Daniels often, Notre Dame may pull away quickly.
3) Aaron Burbridge: Uh hello, Aaron are you there? Burbridge was the lone bright spot out of the receivers a year ago as a true freshman, but he has started the 2013 season slowly. Thus far he has 8 receptions for 80 yards and no touchdowns. If Connor Cook and the offense hope to continue some success, Burbridge must assert himself into the offense. If this is the game Burbridge breaks out, the Spartans may have a chance to steal the win on the road.
The Spartans officially have a quarterback and looked to have an offense a week ago. The coaches and players will hope to keep the offensive momentum going in South Bend, but that will be no easy task. The two true sophomore receivers (Burbridge and Kings Jr.) must have big games and help Cook move the sticks.
Michigan State’s defense does not need to worry about the young and talented duel-threat quarterback Everett Golson this year, which is a good thing. Tommy Rees is no slouch though and already has 969 passing yards and 7 touchdowns, while only throwing 2 interceptions. If the Spartan defense can pressure Rees, he has shown a tendency in the past to make poor decisions, which could lead to turnovers.
Winning in South Bend is not an easy task and Notre Dame will surely hope to keep the Megaphone Trophy for another year. Pat Narduzzi called his defense average, which should have them ready to prove themselves yet again. This game could be a very ugly, low-scoring affair and the Spartan defense should keep them in it. But will the offense move the ball enough to win? I don’t know; that’s why they play the game.
My pick: Michigan State 24, Notre Dame 21