Notre Dame came away from Saturday’s primetime game versus Michigan State with a signature win, and increased expectations. The Irish physically dominated the Spartans en route to a 20-3 victory. This week’s shamrock sticker winners were instrumental in leading the Irish to their first 3-0 start since 2002.
Playing with a heavy heart Manti Te’o turned in his best game of the season, registering 12 tackles, a fumble recovery, and two pass breakups. Te’o was often charged with shutting down Michigan State’s biggest weapon Le’Veon Bell, a task he was more than up too as Bell was held to 77 yards rushing. Te’o was the leader of an Irish defense that didn’t allow Michigan State into the red zone all night and only allowed the Spartans to run one play in Irish territory in the entire second half.
The Irish outside linebacker had a career day versus the Spartans, tallying nine total tackles, two of which for a loss, as well as a sack and two quarterback hurries. Shembo was a thorn in the side of the Spartans offensive line all day, constantly pressuring the quarterback and doing a brilliant job of setting the edge. Aside from his personal foul in the first quarter, Shembo played a perfect game for the Irish.
Notre Dame’s young signal-caller looked like a veteran in a hostile environment versus a traditional rival. Golson did a beautiful job of managing the game and eliminating the big mistake. Golson was content to throw the ball away when a play was covered instead of forcing things, which allowed the Irish defense to never be forced to defend a short field. Golson went 14/32 passing for 178 yards and a touchdown, while rushing for another touchdown, and continued to display his mobility and talent for extending the play.
Irish punter Ben Turk makes his second straight appearance on shamrock stickers with another brilliant performance. With the Irish offense struggling to move the ball at times Turk was called upon to punt on eight occasions. Turk averaged 42.4 yards per punt and pinned the Spartans inside the 20 four times. More amazingly, three of Turk’s four second half punts flipped the field, with the Spartans being forced to start at their own 12, 4, and 21 yard lines. Turk also drew a crucial roughing the kicker penalty when the Irish were backed up deep in their own territory.