Not Enough Gas in the Tank Spartans put up a fight before fading late. ESPN Gameday was on hand in South Bend, Indiana for the “Battle for the Megaphone” this week as #6 Michigan State took on the second-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Despite its game of the week status, signs pointed heavily in the Irish’s favor, as Notre Dame has arguably the most talented team in the country. Seemingly nobody outside of East Lansing thought the Spartans would have a shot in this one, but all it took was the confidence of the Spartans to make this a worthy game of the week as MSU put up a real fight for 3-plus quarters before fading late in the 26-14 loss. The Fighting Irish got off to a strong start, jumping out to an early 3-0 lead. But, the story of the day was the numerous amount of costly injuries for Michigan State. And the day of pain started on the Spartans’ opening drive of the game as the NCAA’s leading receiver through the first two weeks, Anthony Anderson, was knocked out with a game-ending injury. The Spartans quickly punted back to Notre Dame and it was beginning to look like it might be a long day. After receiving the punt, the Irish struck quickly. James Gutierrez hooked up with a wide-open David Green for a 62-yard score, giving the Irish a 10-0 lead. But, the Spartans wouldn’t give up this early, and the green-and-white answered right back with a scoring drive of their own. MSU began pounding it at the Irish on the ground with star back Brian Wilson, and picking up third downs through the air. Wilson capped off the drive with a 2-yard touchdown run on 3rd and goal to cut the Irish lead to three. The Irish took back to the field and did some pounding on the ground of their own, burning much of the rest of the first half before scoring on a 7-yard David Green run to give Notre Dame a 17-7 lead late in the half. At this point, MSU should have just packed it in with the ball first in the second half, but the Spartans got greedy and went to the air. David Williams forced a pass on second down, and Notre Dame picked it off deep in MSU territory. The Irish got the ball inside the 10 before taking a 20-7 lead with a field goal. With the start of the second half came a spark of life. On the second play of the opening drive of the half, David Williams hit David Hale for a big 58-yard pass play, setting the Spartans up with 1st and goal from the Irish 2-yard line early in the half. And on the next play Brian Wilson punched it in for his second score on the day to cut the Irish lead to 20-14 early in the third. The Spartan defense came out for the first time in the half fired up, forcing a three-and-out to give MSU the ball back quickly. But, the stop didn’t come without a price as MSU felt their second big blow with the loss of pre-season all-american FS Ray Hawkins for the remainder of the game. The Spartans came back out onto the field with all the confidence in the world, given a chance to take the lead. But the most important player to the Spartan offensive attack, star HB Brian Wilson, was injured early in the drive, severely crippling the MSU offense. The Spartans still continued to slowly punch their way down the field on the ground with back-up Jay Mayhew, but the speed-rushing style of Mayhew just wasn’t the same as Wilson’s bulldozing style and it really hurt MSU. With the Spartans continuing to move the ball, and a first down from inside Irish territory near the start of the fourth quarter, the key three-down sequence for the game was about to take place. After constantly pounding the ball the entire drive thus far, MSU tried to catch the Irish off guard with a play-action. But the Irish came on a run-blitz and managed to get to QB David Williams just before he could get the pass off, sacking the QB for a 10-yard loss. The Spartans were stuck in a third-and-long after a short run and were forced to go to the air. But again the Irish pass rush was too much for the undermanned MSU O-line (two starters out), and Williams couldn’t get the pass off. But this time the sack resulted in a fumble and the Irish recovered, setting Notre Dame up inside the MSU forty. The Irish continued to move the ball on the ground, extending the lead to two scores with another David Green touchdown run with four and a half minutes remaining. The Spartans still had some hope, but with their two biggest playmakers out for the game, it would be tough. Making matters worse, on the second play of the drive (a first down completion), QB David Williams was knocked out of the game with an injury, leaving it up to back-up QB Daniel Davis to come in and try to mount an improbable comeback. But, with no running game and a back-up QB, the Spartans were forced into a 4th and long and had to punt from deep in their territory. With all the injuries, even if the Spartans would have managed to get the ball back again, the game was pretty much over as the Irish defense was picking up steam. But the Irish were able to burn the rest of the clock on the ground with their next possession to walk off with a hard-fought 26-14 victory. "My hat goes off to them, coach @edge7771 adjusted well on defense and exploited our weaknesses in the second half. They're a great team, and showed it on the field out there. Although they're our rivals, I wish them good luck the rest of the way." Coach Bass said following the loss. The biggest blow for the game was the loss of Brian Wilson. Wilson will be out for much of the rest of the season with broken ribs. The Spartans hope that the star HB will return by week 13 or 14, and that Jay Mayhew can find a way to fill the big shoes left behind. Also, MSU lost starting outside linebacker Travis Pittman for 6 weeks due to a dislocated ankle in the loss. All other injured Spartans are probable for Week 5. Next week the battered and bruised Spartans have a much-needed bye before opening big ten play in Bloomington, Indiana against the rival Hoosiers.