When the Michigan State football program beats Notre Dame Saturday night, the Spartans will have the arm of quarterback Andrew Maxwell to thank while celebrating in the locker room after the game.
Coming into the 76th edition of this rivalry matchup, the Fighting Irish already know that Spartan running back Le’Veon Bell is one of the best ball carriers in the Big Ten, maybe even the best all-around rusher in the nation. As Matt Fortuna, the writer for ESPN’s Notre Dame Football Blog, stated, the Irish will stack the box with its stout run defense and take away Bell’s opportunities to get to the second level of Notre Dame’s defense. I agree with his notion through and through. Notre Dame is taking the unproven quarterback approach to Maxwell and will force him to earn the respect of the defense. After Saturday’s game is finished, Maxwell will have earned the respect of every defense in the nation.
Michigan State will have plenty of opportunities to showcase Maxwell’s abilities if Notre Dame commits several costly turnovers. Bleacher Report blogger Richard Langford pointed out how Notre Dame struggled with turnovers last season and that the team writhed to get out of their own way. If this streak continues for the Irish, it just means that Maxwell will get even more chances to showcase why he is the perfect replacement for former-Spartan quarterback Kirk Cousins.
Spartan fans saw last weekend the coming out party of wide receiver Bennie Fowler who pulled in eight receptions for 99-yards and a touchdown against the Central Michigan Chippewas. Tack on the fact that the sophomore transfer wide receiver DeAnthony Arnett, a former coveted recruiting prospect, is settling into Michigan State’s offense and is ready to become a huge target for the team—Michigan State has the deep threats to allow Maxwell to have a big night. Not to mention ten different players caught a reception for the Spartans last week, albeit the Chippewas were a lousy opponent, but that is still a statistic worth writing home about if you are a State homer.
Last week the Fighting Irish narrowly beat the Purdue Boilermakers by a score of 20-17. Purdue has been one of the conference’s body bag teams in the past several years; however, the Boilermaker’s are striving toward becoming a better football program under head coach Danny Hope this season. The point is: Notre Dame had to hold on tight to beat Purdue at home last week. That is a bad sign for a team traveling to East Lansing to face the No. 10 football program in the counting, which are all more reasons to believe Maxwell is going to have a huge day.
Fortuna also believes that Michigan State football coach Mark Dantonio is going to pull another one of his wild trick plays out of his magic hat, but I don’t see that happening during Saturday’s matchup. Maxwell should be able to handle Notre Dame’s secondary in a surprising fashion, which will lead to a large victory. Bold prediction: Michigan State 28, Notre Dame 7.
|Who: No. 20 Notre Dame at No. 10 Michigan State in Spartan Stadium|
|Time: 8:00 p.m.|