Originally written on Crystal Ball Run  |  Last updated 11/15/14
Photo: USA Today Sports No. 22 Notre Dame vs. Michigan State Saturday, 3:30 p.m. NBC Line: Notre Dame -7 The college football schedule for this weekend may not be the most appetizing, but it does include another rivalry game that has been fun to watch over the years. Notre Dame will play their third straight game against a Big Ten opponent when they return to Notre Dame Stadium for the first time since the season opener against Temple. Michigan State comes to town, looking to pick up their first win since 2007 in South Bend. The Spartans have played well on defense but need to pick up the offense against the Irish, who also look to lock down on defense for the first time this season. For Notre Dame to Win: Tighten up on defense. Through three games this season we have seen that the Irish are not quite as automatic on defense as they were a year ago. Temple managed to rack up 362 yards of offense on Notre Dame in the season opener, Notre Dame's only home game so far, and the Owls enter the week with the 96th total offense in the country. With questions about stability on Michigan State's offense, the Irish have to bring pressure on Connor Cook, making his first road start of his career. Notre Dame has just three sacks through three games. For Michigan State to Win: Show up on offense. The Spartans have limped out of the gates this season on offense, being outscored by their defense in the first two games before finding somethign that seemed to work well against FCS Youngstown State last weekend. Have the Spartans found a quarerback in Connor Cook, or will they get hit with a big dose of reality this weekend in South Bend? Last year Michigan State managed to score just three points against the Irish. Notre Dame's defense is good, but not great so far. They can be scored on with the right offense on the field. Key Player, Notre Dame: If we are going to focus on Notre Dame's defense, it starts up front with Louis Nix and Stephon Tuitt. Between them the Irish have 679 pounds to handle fo Michigan State's offensive line. They should be able to plug some holes for Michigan State's running game, which has been the lifeblood of the Spartans offense for a while now and may be needed in this weekend's match-up on key downs. Key Player, Michigan State: Connor Cook will be thrown under a huge spotlight this weekend. After being declared the starting quarterback for a second straight week, it appears as though he will be the guy leading this offense until he stutters. At the moment there appear to be problems, who short will the leash from Mark Dantonio be before swapping back to Andrew Maxwell or freshman Damion Terry? Cook has completed jus 55.1 percent of his passes for 276 yards and four touchdowns. Those numbers may not blow you away, but that is the best the Spartans have to offer right now under center. Key Stat: Everybody who watches football knows that turnovers often play in to the outcome of a game, and thi rivalry has been no exception. The winning team in the series has won the turnover battle as well in each of the last five years. The last time a team managed to overcome a turnover deficit was in 2007 when Michigan State had two turnovers but pulled away from the Irish 31-14. And if history is any indication, turnovers will happen. In that same span there has been only one game in which one team did not have a turnover. Notre Dame did that last season in a victory. Follow Crstal Ball Run on Facebook and Twitter.
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Todd Gurley: 2015 NFL Draft Profile

Colts' Robert Mathis hopes to be back by training camp

LeBron thought Kyrie was a ballhog when season started

Muhammad Ali rooting for a Pacquiao win over Mayweather

Report: Cowboys to restructure Tony Romo's contract


Blake Griffin frustrated with lack of fan support at home

Eli Manning expects Giants' offense to take off in 2015

Bruce Irvin apologizes for DUI April Fools' joke

Report: LeBron James calls plays, David Blatt repeats them

Anthony Davis puts Harden ahead of himself for MVP

LeBron James lists his top three friends in the NBA

Westbrook: I'm not Angry Man off the court, I'm a chill guy

Fourth man sentenced in 2007 killing of Sean Taylor

Players who could have their arbitration years bought out

Rookie of the Year: Should there be a winner?

What's next for the Phoenix Suns?

Aaron Rodgers to appear on celebrity version of 'Jeopardy!'

Dark horse Cy Young candidates

Final Four fact or fiction

Five worst situations at quarterback in NFL

Young sportswriter behind Cam Newton column speaks out

Tom Brady posts Photoshop as April Fools' joke on Facebook

'Zo on MJ: He would average almost 50 in today's NBA

All Sports News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Dark horse Cy Young candidates

Final Four fact or fiction

Why WrestleMania 31 was an all-time great

Five worst QB situations in NFL

WATCH: Curry drops CP3 with crossover

Durant wants to spend career in OKC

This isn’t Tom Izzo’s greatest March masterpiece

Are the Angels being overlooked?

Top 20 players in the Final Four

Report: Tiger's plane spotted in Augusta

Moss shares story on meeting Deion

Five coaches already on the hot seat

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.