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Irish Insights

File | Associated Press
Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook is stopped by South Florida's Reshard Cliett Sept. 7.

Notre Dame prepares for physical test

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said during his Tuesday press conference that his No. 22 Irish (2-1) know what to expect when they play host to Michigan State (3-0) on Saturday.

The game against the Spartans ends a three-game stretch against Big Ten opponents for Notre Dame, which fell to No. 17 Michigan (3-0) 30-41 on Sept. 7 and survived to defeated Purdue (1-2) 31-24 last Saturday.

"It has been for us a very physical three weeks with Michigan, Purdue and now Michigan State," Kelly said.

This weekend could be the biggest test for the Irish's toughness, and the team's offense as the Spartans come into the game ranked No. 1 in total defense, giving up 177 yards per game, No. 4 in rushing defense, giving up 50.3 yards per game, and No. 5 in passing defense, giving up 126.7 yards per game.

"(Michigan State coach) Mark Dantonio's teams obviously a hallmark of their teams are physical and certainly well prepared in all phases of the game," Kelly said. "It's the Michigan State teams we've come to know and respect. It's one of those typical Big Ten games, where the last man standing through four quarters comes out victorious."

Notre Dame also knows what kind of quarterback it will face as Connor Cook has emerged from Michigan State's competition, beating out Andrew Maxwell and Tyler O'Connor for the top spot.

Cook went 15 of 22 for 202 yards and four touchdowns and ran for 25 yards in last Saturday's 55-17 blowout of Youngstown State.

"What he does for them is give them the ability to run the quarterback," Kelly said. "That has not been something that has been part of their offense in the past. Now they have the ability to run some schemes and in particular situations, down and distance, that force you to consider how you are defending them."

Kelly said he hopes to have one of his starting defensive linemen back to help defend Michigan State.

Defensive end Sheldon Day sprained his ankle against Purdue and was wearing a walking boot Tuesday. Kelly said Day should be out of the boot Wednesday and should be able to practice Wednesday.