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Michigan State-Notre Dame Preview Capsule

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Michigan State (3-0) vs. No. 22 Notre Dame (2-1), 3:30 p.m. (NBC)

Line: Notre Dame by 6 1/2.

Series record: 47-28-1.

WHAT'S AT STAKE

Notre Dame already has a loss to a Big Ten school from Michigan and can't afford another. Michigan State is trying to get off to its best start since 2010, when a touchdown on a fake field goal in overtime gave the Spartans an overtime victory over the Irish and launched them to an 8-0 start and a share of the Big Ten title.

KEY MATCHUP

Notre Dame QB Tommy Rees vs. the Michigan State defense. The Spartans are No. 1 in total defense and pass efficiency defense, but that's been against soft competition. Rees became the second Irish quarterback to pass for 300 yards in the first three games of a season, joining Jimmy Clausen in 2009, and could become the first Notre Dame quarterback to accomplish the feat in the first four games.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Michigan State: DE Shilique Calhoun has three touchdowns, with two fumble recoveries for scores and a 56-yard interception return. He also has two sacks, eight quarterback hurries, three tackles for loss and another fumble recovery.

Notre Dame: RB by committee. George Atkinson tops the depth chart and has the most yards per carry at 5.4, but is third in carries (18) and yards (98). Amir Carlisle appeared to be emerging as the top runner and leads the team with 148 yards on 30 carries, but touched the ball only once in the fourth quarter against Purdue, and that was a fumble. Cam McDaniel is least-heralded, but has 29 carries for 125 yards.

FACTS & FIGURES

Nine of the last 13 games in the series have been decided by a touchdown or less. ... The Irish are 11-6 under Kelly in games decided by a touchdown or less, but 9-1 in their last 10 games. ... The rivalry goes on one of its periodic pauses for the next two seasons, which has nothing to do with Notre Dame's agreement to play five games against Atlantic Coast Conference opponents. The two-year pause was agreed to before Notre Dame joined the ACC in most sports other than football. It will be the first such break in the series since 1995-96.

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