Irish bracing for nation's top D

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — With the nation's No. 1 defense coming to town, there is a laundry list of things Notre Dame has to do right on Saturday.

"How we tackle, how we protect," coach Brian Kelly said, rattling off a few items, "(DaVaris) Daniels is going to have to make big plays, our line's going to have to identify their schemes."

But during his Tuesday press conference, Kelly said none of it will matter against Michigan State unless his team executes.

Last year Kelly challenged his offensive line before it faced Stanford and its dominant front-seven. With a more seasoned group up-front this season, the message is already understood.

"We know that, and we have a ton of respect for Michigan State," Kelly said. "Our kids have played in the game, and a lot of them have played in it. They know the kind of game it is; it's not like I have to stand in front of them and get them ready for this fight. They know what kind of game it's going to be."

The Irish have beaten the Spartans in each of the past two seasons, and they know what is in store this time around as they complete their three-game Big Ten schedule.

"Typical Big Ten game," Kelly said. "Last man standing four quarters comes out victorious."

Notes: Sophomore defensive end Sheldon Day (ankle sprain) is in a walking boot but could practice Wednesday.