Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Notre Dame is showing signs of life on offense, but Michigan State's disciplined defense continues to come up big.
The Fighting Irish wisely shelved their run game after getting nothing out of their backs in the first half. Quarterback Jimmy Clausen is operating almost exclusively from the shotgun, usually with no backs, and he's beginning to find his rhythm. But every time the Irish get on track, they seem to make mistakes. They had a nice drive at the beginning of the quarter that ended with wideout Michael Floyd fumbling in the red zone.
If the Spartans hold on, they can credit a marauding defense and senior running back Javon Ringer (118 rush yards, TD). Senior quarterback Brian Hoyer hasn't improved his completion ratio (9-for-23), and the Spartans are too one-dimensional. They mounted a nice drive following Floyd's fumble but stalled again in the red zone. As I stated before, Hoyer will need to make a play or two down the stretch for Michigan State to hold on.
Clausen appeared to injure his left arm/shoulder on a sack late in the quarter. Backup Evan Sharpley started to warm up but Clausen re-entered the game.