Scouting Report and Prediction: MSU vs. Notre Dame

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Kirk Cousins must be in command and have his best game of the 2010 season against the Irish.  Photo courtesy of Starr Portice.

Kirk Cousins must be in command and have his best game of the 2010 season against the Irish. Photo courtesy of Starr Portice.

A look at this week’s opponent…

I am perplexed to hear the national media with an interest in Notre Dame trying to lower expectations and calling the Irish rebuilding. The Irish have great players, many that the Spartans and others wanted. The only difference is that this team is better coached than the days of Charlie.

When MSU has the ball…

The Spartans must throw the ball better than they have thus far. Notre Dame will be getting back some crucial CB help. The Spartans needs to force Notre Dame to put extra men in the box to stop the running attack and open passing lanes for Cousins. Here is one of the most critical elements to the game: The Spartans have to throw when they WANT to and not when they are FORCED to. 

If you see the Spartans consistently put into obvious passing situations they will struggle. I look for some passing on first down and most of all the Spartans must do what they want and not what the Irish dictate.

When MSU is on defense…

The Spartans have to stop the Irish QB Crist. If he isn’t able to do what he does, the Spartans win and win easily. Whether it is containing him or getting pressure with the front, he can’t be allowed to do the things he wants to.

UM was able to get pressure without blitzing. The Spartans need to be able to contain Crist and get pressure without bringing the house. When they can put six men in pass coverage that means they are getting pressure with five. When they can’t get pressure with four, things are even better.

Notre Dame gets rid of the ball fast so you probably won’t see many sacks, but look for pressure. Pressure means that Crist has to do what the Spartans dictate and not what he wants to do.

Intangibles…

Remember the rule of five. If MSU wins that, this game is over. For those who don’t remember it, it has to do with sacks and turnovers. If the Spartans have three sacks and give up two that means they are plus one. If they then get four turnovers and give up only one that means they are plus three. That would give them a plus four for the day. They want to get to a plus five ratio at least every game. I don’t think it is as critical as other games (read Notre Dame) but still it is important to watch. In a game like this where the Irish get rid of the ball so fast, sometimes it isn’t sacks, sometimes it is rushing a throw and getting a pick.

Prediction…

MSU will come out this week with guns ablaze. There is no doubt that this is the best team MSU has faced so far, and I believe we are the best team the Irish have faced. Make it MSU 27-Notre Dame 21 and the Spartans move to 3-0.