Pit Fight! Notre Dame vs. Michigan State
Even though Notre Dame is too exclusive a football fraternity to join a conference (completely), their rivalry against several Big Ten teams is fierce. Purdue is the in state little brother that could, Michigan is equally as evil, while Michigan State has traded blows with the Irish since 1897, including the 10-10 tie dubbed the “Game of the Century” in 1966. Sparty and the Irish have no love lost, and can only agree on one thing, hating Michigan. For this weeks Pit Fight I brought together Brian, a Notre Dame fanatic whose family owns a Notre Dame backing Irish bar in New Jersey, and Chris, a Michigan State alumni that wears Tom Izzo pajamas. Lets Pit Fight!
Notre Dame at Michigan State, Saturday @ 8pm
image courtesy of Irishcentral.com
Brian = Notre Dame
Chris = Michigan State
Ian (Moderator): Alright, well the game is at Michigan State, so I think Brian should be able to open the Pit Fight and let us know why Notre Dame will win Saturday. From there its a free-for-all.
Brian: Alright, Saturday will be a great game in my opinion. The keys for Notre Dame winning are pretty simple. 1. Everett Golson. Golson is playing in his first true road game. He’s young and inexperienced but very talented. Notre Dame will have to utilize the play action and take advantage of Golson’s mobility and elusiveness. If he Golson is able to make plays, Notre Dame is going to be in great shape. 2. Stopping the RUN! LeVeon Bell has been fantastic early on but he has not seen a defensive line as talented as Notre Dame’s. Tuitt, Nix and Lewis-Moore are so crucial in the 3-4 to allow Manti Te’o and other LB’s run free. They have done a great job so far but this will be a great test. 3. Big Plays. Notre Dame needs to produce big plays and I think they will. George Atkinson III is a big play threat on Special Teams and out of the backfield for ND. His size and speed could cause problems. Look for Devonte Neal to break one this week. On offense, needs to stretch the field with their speed Wrs such as Davaris Daniels. More and More each week they have.
Chris: First, and foremost, I just want to congratulate Charlie Weis for trimming so many pounds during the off season. He looks great on the sideline. Oh, that’s not Weis? Like the rest of the nation, I haven’t paid attention to Notre Dame since 1999.
Brian: funny you haven’t paid attention. considering nd smacked msu up and down the field last year. Guess you missed that.
Chris: All good fans forget the losses. I watched Notre Dame play Navy (but missed the Purdue game). I must admit, they looked improved but that’s not saying much. Their defensive line looked big/fat and, of course, they have decent linebackers. On offense, Golson looked fine but I was most impressed by their new running back. That said, I expect a low scoring game with tons of rushing. Who does that favor? A Big 10 team under the lights that has won 16 straight games at home. I haven’t seen many defenses over the past 2 years better than MSU’s. If Golson gets the start — isn’t that still being debated? — expect the same fate Denard Robinson had last year at Spartan Stadium.
Brian: You can’t compare Golson and Shoe Laces. Shoe Laces is a scat back playing QB while Golson is more of a passer than Shoe Laces.
Chris: Golson’s going to need time to pass and he won’t have that luxury this week. This MSU defense lost very little from last year — Worthy left the biggest hole and it seems to have been filled so far.
Brian: You’ll see a lot of screesn and play action.
Brian: I’m not too impressed with William Gholston. Watching him againts Boise. A Guy gets a lot of hype for someone who doesn’t make many tackles behind the LOS.
I think Tuitt is far superior player and you’ll see that on draft day in a year or two.
image courtesy of isportsweb.com
Chris: On offense, the absence of Kirk Cousins against Notre Dame isn’t too traumatic seeing that he played below average last year (other than throwing for a decent amount of yards). He played like absolute sh*t but had 329 yards. His late INT was the nail in the coffin but he kept overthrowing receivers…including one or two wide open in the endzone. Bell has improved. The offensive line has improved. We miss senior leaders at WR but eventually this new crew will have a breakout game. Will it be this week? Maybe…but, only if ND can put up points. Otherwise, I expect Dantonio to calls plays that will allow MSU to out run Notre Dame.
Chris: Gholston is by far the best defensive player MSU has had in a long time. It has taken him a bit to warm up the last 2 seasons but I expect he’ll be fully amped on Saturday night…and all over Gholson’s (or Rees’) jersey.
Brian: Bell better run 50 times. Notre Dame can get to the QB. Maxwell is erratic and doesn’t have great play makers at the Wr. Notre Dame is more talented on Offense. They’ll be able to move the ball more than you think. Cierre Wood coming back makes a big difference.
Chris: Notre Dame is more talented on offense? Maybe they should settle on a starting QB and scheme before making that assertion.
Brian: Golson is the QB. Purdue stacked the box and ND threw the ball. Nd simply overpowered Navy.
Chris: I’d take Rees’ leadership over Gholson’s talent against this stellar MSU defense.
Brian Dillon: They gameplan becaue they are able to adjust on offense. Will Michigan State be able to throw the ball if ND stacks the box?? I say no.
Chris: I was at the gym early this morning and the Sportscenter headline/debate was who should start…did they officially name Gholson the starter for this game? Not a smart move. I could see him making some plays off the bench and rallying the troops after Rees gets chewed up and spit out.
Brian: He was named the starter during the post presser of the Purdue game. Rees won’t see much of the field. If Rees plays, Michigan State would win by 2 tds;
guy can’t move or strech the field Golson can extend plays and help ND stretch the field.
Chris: Maxwell is a big ten QB. He hasn’t been washing dishes the last 2 years behind Cousins. Do I like him based on the green/white preseason games and the Alabama bowl appearance a couple of years abck? Absolutely not. Do I know much about him? Absolutely not. Can he make plays? TBD.
Brian: Will Michigan State be able to shut down Eifert? Dion Sims will be a big key for Michigan State.
Chris: Again, Gholson can stretch the field and make plays against Navy. He won’t have that same luck against this defense. Ask NCAA’s fastest QB, Denard Robinson what he thinks about Narduzzi’s MSU defense.
Brian: he threw 18 passes against Navy. Did you watch last week?
Chris: No, I was drinking. I watched the Navy game…he looked athletic.
Brian: They took more shots down field especially off play action.
Chris: MSU has experience at both LB and DB and Eifert is just another Big Ten tight end.
Brian: just another is right.
Chris: Who should expect to be hit pretty high, I’m guessing.
Ian (Moderator): Alright, I’m butting in and saying we’ve heard good points from either side. I’m pumped for the game! Now let me hear predictions from both sides.
Brian: Best Tight End in the Country. Lines up in the slot, on the outside.
Chris: So, you have fresh blood at QB. Fresh blood at RB. You’ve lost your best WR. If MSU’s defense keeps Gholson in check, how can you imagine Notre Dame winning?
Brian: Fresh blood at rb??? Wood and Riddick? Wood is a rs Jr and Riddick is a Sr. Wood was a 1000 yd rusher a year ago.
Chris: Who’s the kid they moved from WR?
Brian: Riddick, but he came in as a running back. Now come on, make your prediction.
Chris: Again, nobody pays attention to Notre Dame anymore.
Brian: Yesterday proved they do. You sound like the rest of Idiots who hate on ND. Have they won? No. But neither has Michigan State ever. Stick to Hoops. Notre Dame 24-20.
Chris: Notre Dame makes it 10 years of failing to start a season 3-0 as MSU gets their revenge from last year and wins for the 17th straight time at Spartan Stadium by the score of 21-13.
Brian: and Tom Izzo’s 1-5 record in the Final Four.
Ian (Moderator): FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER THE PIT FIGHT HAS TRANSCENDED SPORTS!
Chris: I’ll never complain with making it to the Final Four…would I want a few more championships? Sure. And, he’ll get a few more.
Brian: Good Luck on Saturday Night. Good Talking with you.
Ian Gold is kind of a professional sports writer. Professional enough to run a fantasy football sports blog, and become a credentialed writer at the Newark Star-Ledger. Unprofessional enough enter into a full-fledged argument on twitter with a 15-year-old - but once again, professional enough to win said argument. Also, unless you're Matt Stafford, he can throw a spiral better than you.