Notre Dame put a hurting on Michigan State over the weekend. The Irish dominated Michigan State from start to finish in one of the best performances we’ve seen from the Irish in some time. We don’t yet know just how good the Spartans are considering they had an even worse record than Notre Dame did a year ago, but any time you can beat Michigan State in their house in prime time by 20 points, it’s a beautiful thing. The four players listed here are big reasons why the Irish won as easily as they did.
1. Shaun Crawford
Some other players may have had better stat lines or better overall games, but no one else had the same magnitude of impact on the outcome as Shaun Crawford. When he forced a fumble on LJ Scott as the Spartan running back was just about to cross the goalline in the 2nd quarter, he completely changed the complexion of the game. If Scott makes it another half yard before losing the ball, it’s a 21-14 game and the Spartans have all the momentum. Instead, Crawford knocked the ball loose and pounced on it; and a few minutes later, the Irish had a 28-7 lead going into halftime.
We’ll never know just how much Scott’s fumble impacted the outcome of the game. Perhaps the Notre Dame offense still responds with a long touchdown drive before halftime. More than likely though, the Spartans cutting the lead to 7 there makes this a whole different ball game. Thankfully because of Shaun Crawford’s ballhawking nature, we’ll never know. That’s now four turnovers in the last two weeks produced by Crawford earning him the top spot here for the second week in a row – the first player to repeat as the top Horseman of the week this year.
2. Brandon Wimbush
For at least one week, Brandon Wimbush silenced his doubters questioning his ability to throw the football with consistency. On the heels of his rough passing outing against Boston College, Wimbush and Notre Dame came out firing on Saturday night. Wimbush looked the best he has all year as a passer on the drive and just missed on a long touchdown to Equanimeous St. Brown. The play still went for 31 yards and showed Michigan State that Notre Dame does indeed have a passing attack that can hurt you vertically if you don’t respect it though and set the tone for the rest of the game.
After that first drive Wimbush didn’t look quite as comfortable as a passer, but it was still a big step forward for him after back to back games where he struggled to move the ball in the air.
Wimbush added another rushing touchdown to give him 7 on the season already. He is on pace to not just break Deshone Kizer’s Notre Dame record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback – but shatter it. Kizer ran for 9 in 2015. At current pace, Wimbush would end the season with 21. Odds are he’ll slow down a bit on that pace after his historic 4 touchdown game against Boston College, but he has rushed for a touchdown in every game this year now so don’t expect him to slow down too much.
3. Julian Love
At times, Julian Love had a little up and down game, but he got the party started right on Saturday with his 59 yard pick six – Notre Dame’s first since Andrew Trumbetti’s against Wake Forest in 2015. Later in the first half Love got beat for a touchdown on an under-thrown fade that he very well could have had his 2nd interception of the night on if he got himself turned around. Another errant thrown came his way that might have been picked off if he had be turned around. Even with the miscue on the touchdown, his pick six helped set the tone for the rest of the game and gave Notre Dame a 14-0 lead in the blink of an eye.
4. Dexter Williams
Dexter Williams is officially becoming Notre Dame’s version of Chris Carter. All’s he does is score touchdowns. Williams touched the ball 9 times on Saturday and he scored two more touchdowns. On the season, Williams now has 21 touchdowns and 5 touchdowns. Over the last two years, he has 64 touchdowns and 8 touchdowns. That is a touchdown once every 8 touches. That is ridiculous production. So in short, get the kid the ball early and often week in and week out.
On Saturday specifically, Williams made a nice catch in the endzone on a 3rd and goal to give Notre Dame a 21-7 lead. Following Shaun Crawford’s huge fumble recovery, Williams capped off the ensuing Notre Dame drive with a 14 yard touchdown run. I was tempted to list Quenton Nelson or Mike McGlinchey here to give the OL some love, but Dexter Williams has just been scoring touchdowns at a ridiculous rate for too long now to go unnoticed in this column.
We are getting all fancy with this column now too. Below we have the yearly standings with points being assigned for 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th accordingly. Below that we have another table – that’s two tables in a single post folks – with the weekly finishers.
|Player||1st Horseman||2nd Horseman||3rd Horseman||4th Horseman||Total Points|
|Equanimeous St. Brown||0||1||0||0||30|
|1st Horsemen||2nd Horsemen||3rd Horsemen||4th Horsemen|
|Week 1 (Temple)||Brandon Wimbush||Josh Adams||Jay Hayes||Tevon Coney|
|Week 2 (Georgia)||Drue Tranquill||Justin Yoon||Nick Coleman||Jay Hayes|
|Week 3 (Boston College)||Shaun Crawford||Josh Adams||Brandon Wimbush||Tevon Coney|
|Week 4 (Michigan State)||Shaun Crawford||Brandon Wimbush||Julian Love||Dexter Williams|
|Week 5 (Miami OH)||Josh Adams||Jerry Tillery||Quenton Nelson||Greer Martini|