EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Welcome to Sparta.
The Big Ten's featured matchup of the day takes place tonight as No. 10 Michigan State hosts No. 20 Notre Dame. The Spartans aim for their third consecutive home win against the Fighting Irish, and their 16th consecutive victory at Spartan Stadium. Great tailgating scene around the stadium today, and I'm very impressed with the new scoreboards Michigan State has installed. They really enhance the setting.
Michigan State is clearly the class of the Big Ten, and the Spartans get most of their marquee games -- Boise State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Nebraska -- on their home field. This benefits first-year starter Andrew Maxwell, who overcame some struggles in the opener against Boise State, and has the help of an elite defense that hasn't reached its peak yet, as well as a standout running back in Le'Veon Bell.
The quarterback situations for both teams should be fascinating as Notre Dame sends redshirt freshman Everett Golson back on the field after replacing him with Tommy Rees in last week's win against Purdue. Coach Brian Kelly is sticking with Golson as his starter, but he never has been shy about making changes, and Michigan State has prepared to see both quarterbacks. The Irish regain the services of running back Cierre Wood, and could find success attacking the middle of the field as Michigan State is so-so at defensive tackle and could struggle against tight end Tyler Eifert. Notre Dame star linebacker Manti Te'o is playing with a heavy heart after losing his grandmother and a friend this past week. Expect an inspired performance from Te'o.
Michigan State has yet to allow an offensive touchdown this season, but coordinator Pat Narduzzi really challenged his unit this week. It'll be interesting to see how they respond against a young Irish quarterback.