Big Ten Game of the Week: Week 3 Notre Dame vs. Michigan State

It feels good to be back.

A little over a week ago I gave my pick for the Big Ten game of the week in Week Two of the season. My pick: Penn State vs. Virginia

This week, I pick the game of the week for Week Three.

Week Three: Notre Dame vs. Michigan State 8 p.m. ABC

Notre Dame will win if they…

Don’t turn the football over and shut down the run. One of the many problems the Irish had in their 2011 mediocre campaign was turning the football over. They had a minus-1.15 turnover margin, good for the third worst in college football. That will not get it done against what is predicted to be one of the top defenses in the country in 2012 at Michigan State. The Irish will have three games to find out who the starting quarterback will be before they match up against the Spartans. So far, through the early days of fall camp, coach Brian Kelly has been impressed with last year’s starter, Tommy Rees. The defense will need to contain running back Le’Veon Bell and shut down first year starter at quarterback for MSU Andrew Maxwell. The Spartans will be looking for revenge after their loss in South Bend last season.

Michigan State will win if they…

Run the football and win the turn over battle. First year quarterback Andrew Maxwell will need some help against an experienced Irish defense led by Manti Te’o (261 tackles since 2010). If the Spartans can get Le’Veon Bell rolling early, it will only help Maxwell and the offense. Bednarik candidate defense end William Gholston will provide the Irish with all the problems they can handle and if he can get to the QB early, it could be a long day for Brian Kelly’s offense. Sparty also returns arguably the best linebacking core in the nation with all three starters back from a 2011 unit that included Max Bullough, Denicos Allen and Chris Norman. The defense will be the best offense for State in this game, maybe even the entire season.

Prediction: Michigan State wins by 10

This game just spells trouble for the Irish. Michigan State’s defense will be ready to smother Notre Dame and whoever quarterback they decide to line up behind center. The Spartans haven’t forgot about their loss in South Bend last season and will be ready to get after the quarterback. It will be ground and pound with Le’Veon Bell, then letting Andrew Maxwell take his shots downfield when they get the chance. The Spartans should be 3-0 going in to a cupcake game against Eastern Michigan before Ohio State comes to town.

Will Wilson is a writer for Rant Sports covering College Football and the Big Ten Conference.

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