Sept. 17, 2005
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) – The Spartans overcame a 21-point comeback by the Fighting Irish and pulled out their fifth straight win at Notre Dame Stadium with a 44-41 overtime victory on Saturday.
Jason Teague dashed 19 yards with an option pitch for the game-winning touchdown, handing Weis his first loss as Irish coach after starting the season 2-0 on the road.
“I told them you don’t get any medals for trying,” Weis said. “I’m never content when you end up losing.”
Drew Stanton led the Spartans offensively, throwing for three touchdowns and running for another. Michigan State amassed 488 yards total offense against the Irish. Stanton was 16-of-27 for 327 yards.
“We wanted to show that this program is back in the right direction,” Stanton said. “There’s no better way to do that than a rivalry game at Notre Dame.”
The Spartans (3-0) have made a habit of beating the Irish on their home turf, joining Purdue (1954-62) as the only opponent to win five straight at Notre Dame Stadium. Irish fans, many of them wearing the yellow of the school’s new spirit shirt, booed as the Spartans celebrated the victory at midfield.
“It’s good coming into a hostile environment and winning a game like this,” said Matt Trannon, who had five catches for a career-high 136 yards and two touchdowns.
Michigan State’s 12 wins at Notre Dame are the most by an Irish opponent.
Teague, who had been suspended a week earlier for Michigan State’s victory over Hawaii, said he had a hard time breathing at his teammates piled on him in the end zone.
“This is the best time of my life,” he said.
Teague credited Stanton for pitching the ball at the right time and his teammates for clearing his path to the end zone.
“I couldn’t have done it without these guys,” he said, pointing to his teammates.
The Fighting Irish (2-1) rallied from 21 points down in the third quarter to tie the score, but had to settle for a 44-yard field goal by D.J. Fitzpatrick on their OT possession and couldn’t make it stand up.
“When you come back like that, you’ve got a lot of emotion and you feel pretty good about yourself,” Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn said. “And then when you can’t come through with the victory, I think there’s the ability to be a big letdown.”
Quinn passed for a school-record five touchdowns and a career-high 487 yards, the second highest total in Notre Dame history. But it wasn’t enough.
Smith had said earlier in the week that the game would show whether the Spartans are worth a darn. It appears they are.
“Yeah, we’re OK,” he said. “We still have to get a lot better. We’re by no means where we need to be.”
Neither are the Irish, though wins over Pittsburgh and Michigan to start the season propelled Notre Dame into the top 10 for the first time since 2002.
It appeared for a while Michigan State would win easily when they went ahead 38-17 in the third quarter on a 65-yard TD screen pass from Stanton to Matt Trannon, who had 126 yards on five catches.
The Spartan defense, while it gave up some big plays and a 594 yards, came up big when it had to. On the second play of the second half, Sir Darean Adams picked off a pass from Quinn and returned it 30 yards for a TD to give the Spartans a 31-17 lead.
The Irish appeared ready to close to within a touchdown on first-and-goal from the 1. Notre Dame fullback Asaph Schwapp attempted to lunge across the middle with the ball ahead of him, but Domata Peko knocked the ball out and Scott Smith recovered for the Spartans on the 7.
Soon after Trannon scored to spread the lead to 21 points.
The Irish managed to close to 38-31 when Darius Walker scored on a 6-yard TD pass and Maurice Stovall, who had eight catches for 176 yards, scored on a 7-yard pass. The Irish had a chance to tie it earlier in the fourth quarter, but on fourth-and-1 from the Michigan State 20, linebacker David Herron Jr. stuffed Schwapp in a run up the middle. The Irish finally tied the score at 38 with 2:31 left on a TD catch by Jeff Samardzija, his third TD of the game.
Quinn became the first Irish quarterback to have two 400-yard passing games. Joe Theismann hold the school record with 576 yards at Southern California in 1970.
The Spartans improved to 9-1 against Top 10 teams since 1997. Their most recent previous win was 49-14 over No. 4 Wisconsin 49-14 last November. But it was only their second road win against a top 10 team in that time. The other was a 45-23 victory over No. 1 Ohio State in Columbus on Nov. 7, 1987.
Weis became just the third Notre Dame coach since 1913 to lose his home opener, joining Elmer Layden in 1934 and Lou Holtz in 1986.