SOUTH BEND—Twelfth-ranked Michigan State didn’t panic when No. 18 Notre Dame scored three straight touchdowns to cut a 29-point lead to 36-28 with just over six minutes left.The Irish didn’t get any closer after Kizer was sacked for a 5-yard loss by Raequan Williams on third-and-2 and Notre Dame punted with 3:37 left in the game and the Spartans (2-0) ran out the clock.
”I thought our guys played very confidently,” Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said. ”I’m not sure at the end if their coach was confident, totally. But we found a way and our guys kept playing.”
ND coach Brian Kelly said the Irish would have had a chance if not for missed tackles, a problem that’s plagued them in both losses this season.
”We had great situation there late to make a couple tackles, and we just simply didn’t make it,” he said.
Tyler O’Connor, a fifth-year senior making his third career start, was 19 of 26 passing for 241 yards, two touchdowns and one interception on a deflected pass. He said beating the Irish, the team he grew up cheering for was a ”dream come true.”
”I didn’t even dream about it, it was so surreal, to come in here and play and start in a game, and then take a knee in Notre Dame Stadium, and throw up your hands and realize you’ve won. It’s a tremendous feeling,” he said.
Gerald Holmes ran for 100 yards and two touchdowns, including a 73-yard score, saying he was inspired by the death of his grandmother.
”I was in the middle of meetings and I broke out in tears and ran out. But I knew I had a game today and I got the motivation from her to come out here and ball,” he said.
He credited the offensive line for his big run.
”They probably blocked the best they ever have since I’ve been here,” he said.
Dantonio said he couldn’t recall the last time the Spartans dominated as they had late in the second quarter and early in the third.
”It got tougher and tougher in the fourth quarter running the football. … They kept playing and fought their way back into the football game right there at the end.”
Kelly said the mistakes were too much.
”We got too far behind. When you get into that kind of hole it’s hard to dig out of,” he said.
The Spartans record streak of being ranked will stretch to 45 straight weeks, dating back to Oct. 27, 2013 with the win over the Irish and they are likely to move up in the AP poll.With two losses in the first three games for the first time since 2011, the Irish could fall out of the poll for the first time since the end of the 2014 season.MSU’s offense showed there was no need for concern after an unimpressive opening-game victory over FCS Furman, beating Notre Dame to end a three-game losing streak to the Irish. Good pressure by Michigan State’s front seven and good coverage by the secondary kept Kizer scrambling at times and the Irish couldn’t get their running game going.Mistakes hurt the Irish from the start, with an opening kickoff return for a touchdown by C.J. Sanders being called back on a holding penalty by Jalen Elliott. A bouncing punt hit Notre Dame’s Miles Boykins and was recovered by Michigan State long snapper Collin Caflisch at the Notre Dame 38 early, and Sanders fumbled at the end of 19-yard catch that Michigan State linebacker Jon Reschke recovered. Fans booed Notre Dame with 5 minutes left in the third quarter following a pair of runs for no gain.The Spartans begin Big Ten play hosting Wisconsin, which they haven’t faced since a 16-13 overtime victory in 2012 to end the Badgers’ 21-game home winning streak.The Irish begin a stretch of three straight games against ACC teams, which Notre Dame is a member in for most sports aside from football, when it plays Duke. Notre Dame is 3-1 all-time against the Blue Devils.