South Bend, Ind – Two teams at a crossroads. Only one can survive.
The MSU football team (3-0) is coming off of its first strong offensive performance of the season against FCS Youngstown State after struggling in their first two games against Western Michigan and South Florida. However, No. 22 Notre Dame (2-1) also hasn’t had the easiest run of things, falling to Michigan and being taken to the brink by Purdue a week ago.
The storylines remain much the same heading into halftime in South Bend, Ind., as the Spartans trail the Fighting Irish, 10-7.
After going three-and-out on the first drive of the game, MSU freshman wide receiver Matt Macksood blocked a punt by Notre Dame’s Kyle Brindza to set sophomore quarterback Connor Cook and the Spartans up on Notre Dame’s 31-yard line.
However, senior kicker Kevin Muma missed a 30-yard field goal attempt on the ensuing drive, which kept the game scoreless with 11:12 remaining in the first quarter.
From there, Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees opened up the Fighting Irish passing attack, going right at the throat of MSU’s secondary with fade passes. Rees was the catalyst of a seven-play, 57-yard drive that set up Notre Dame kicker Kyle Brindza up for a 41-yard field goal to put the team ahead, 3-0.
Rees finished the first half going 12-of-37 passing for 130 yards to lead a bold Notre Dame attack.
Following a missed 37-yard field goal by Brindza, the Spartans took over the drive on their own 21-yard line with 13:29 to play in the second quarter.
Using a nickel-and-dime approach, the Spartans methodically moved the ball down the field, led by the powerful attack of junior running back Nick Hill, who was responsible for 17 rushing yards on the drive and two of the team’s first downs.
Setting up on Notre Dame’s 12-yard line, Cook found sophomore wide receiver Macgarrett Kings Jr. in the end zone to put the Spartans on the board, 7-3. It was the second consecutive week Cook and Kings have linked up for a touchdown after Cook hit Kings for a 24-yard strike against Youngstown State last week at Spartan Stadium.
But with the clock winding down in the half, Rees completed a two-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver T.J. Jones, capping a nine-play, 50-yard drive to take the lead into the locker room.
The Spartans will receive the ball to start the second half.