ND's Walker rushes for 98 yards

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Notre Dame used an opportunistic

defense to beat Michigan State.

Tom Zbikowski returned a fumble 75 yards for a touchdown, set up

another score with an interception and the Fighting Irish forced

six turnovers in their 31-24 victory over the Spartans on Saturday


The Irish (2-1) got three interceptions and recovered three

fumbles in their second straight victory, bouncing back from a

season-opening loss to Brigham Young.

Freshman Darius Walker, the hero last week in a 28-20 win over

Michigan, had 98 yards on 26 carries.

Zbikowski's two big plays in the first quarter got Notre Dame

rolling against the Spartans (1-2).

His interception of Stephen Reaves' pass led to a 13-yard

scoring drive, capped by a fourth-down, 1-yard bootleg by

quarterback Brady Quinn to tie the game at 7.

Zbikowski said he noticed on film that Reaves tended to lock in

on his receivers.

"I just read the quarterback and made a play on it," Zbikowski

said of the interception.

Zbikowski struck again on the next possession. He read an option

play and stripped running back Jason Teague of the ball, then

rambled down the sideline for a 14-7 lead.

It fulfilled a prophecy by Notre Dame secondary coach Steven


"(He) had been talking all week I was going to get a strip and

do something with it," Zbikowski said. "I kind of made him proud

on that play. I just felt I could get it, went after it hard, and

took off."

Notre Dame coach Tyrone Willingham, a 1977 Michigan State

graduate, is 2-1 against his alma mater as Notre Dame's. He is 3-1

overall against the Spartans, including a win while at Stanford.

He said turnovers were the difference.

"It is something we talk about and work on every week,"

Willingham said. "It's just modern-day, defensive football. You

have to create turnovers."

Michigan State had dominated the recent series against the

Irish, winning six of the previous seven games -- including all five

when Notre Dame was coached by Bob Davie.

Michigan State scored early in the first quarter on a blocked

punt by Marshall Campbell. The punt was recovered in the end zone

by Jerramy Scott to give Michigan State a 7-0 lead.

But the Spartans couldn't keep the momentum, committing four

first-half turnovers. Reaves, a freshman, was benched at halftime

after throwing three interceptions. He was 7-for-20 for 66 yards.

Michigan State lost out on a scoring opportunity late in the

fourth quarter when running back Jehuu Caulcrick -- his team

trailing 28-17 -- fumbled going over the goal line. It was recovered

in the end zone by Notre Dame safety Quentin Burrell for a


"When we come into the team meeting and look at the film, we're

going to be very ill," Michigan State coach John L. Smith said.

"We're going to be sick when we look at it. The opportunities were


Reaves' replacement, sophomore Drew Stanton, led the Spartans to

their only offensive touchdown with 9 seconds left in the game.

Stanton ran in from 4 yards out.

Stanton finished 8-of-12 passing for 110 yards. He also rushed

for 49 yards on eight carries.

Caulcrick was Michigan State's leading rusher with 85 yards on

15 carries.

The Irish had enough on offense to secure the victory, running

for 173 yards. Ryan Grant had 66 yards on 11 carries, including a

6-yard touchdown. Quinn was 11-of-24, passing for 215 yards,

including a 35-yard TD pass to Matt Shelton.

DeAndra Cobb scored on an 89-yard kickoff return for the

Spartans in the third quarter.