South Bend, IN – Cam McDaniel's touchdown run early in the fourth quarter proved to be the difference, as 22nd-ranked Notre Dame bested rival Michigan State, 17-13, at Notre Dame Stadium.
The key score offset a sub-par performance from Tommy Rees, who completed only 14-of-34 passes for 142 yards and one touchdown for the Fighting Irish (3-1), who were coming off a narrow victory at Purdue.
"Somebody was going to have to score a touchdown in the fourth quarter," Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said. "We were able to get the touchdown and hold them from scoring one."
Corey Robinson totaled 54 yards on three catches, and T.J. Jones added a 2- yard TD reception.
Connor Cook was 16-of-32 for 135 yards and one score for the Spartans (3-1), who had outscored their opponents by a 102-36 count to start the season.
Jeremy Langford rushed for 68 yards on 14 carries and Macgarrett Kings, Jr. hauled in a 12-yard scoring strike as part of his 33-yard, four-catch performance in defeat.
"Very proud of our football team in how we came out and played," Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio said. "Wish we had some plays back and some situations back obviously. But proud of our football team."
McDaniel's 7-yard dash up the middle provided a 17-10 edge for the Fighting Irish on the third play of the fourth quarter, capping a 52-yard, 5-play series. A questionable pass interference call on MSU's Bennie Fowler near the goal line during a 3rd-and-10 set the hosts up with 1st-and-goal from the 7- yard line, and two plays later, the hosts moved ahead to stay.
The Spartans responded with a Michael Geiger field goal of 42 yards which pulled them within four, but came up empty on three successive possessions for the remainder of the contest.
Andrew Maxwell gained just eight yards on a 4th-and-20 from the Spartans' 23- yard line, and Notre Dame took over and worked off the final 1:46 for the victory.
The Irish went three-and-out on their first series, then a partially blocked punt by the MSU defense set the Spartans up on the ND 31-yard line. Kevin Muma then pulled a 30-yard try just wide of the left upright.
On the ensuing possession, the Irish went for it on 4th-and-3 from MSU's 29- yard line due to swirling winds, but Rees' heave to the end zone fell incomplete.
Notre Dame was successful on its next drive, as Kyle Brindza was good from 41 yards away with 3:48 left in the opening quarter.
Early in the second quarter, Brindza missed a 37-yarder wide left and Michigan State took over at its 21. The Spartans then converted a 4th-and-1 from the hosts' 41, and a personal foul on the Irish gave the visitors new life at the 25. Six plays later, Cook found Kings in the end zone for a 7-3 edge.
It was 10-7 for Notre Dame with 17 seconds to play in the half as Jones tiptoed around the back of the end zone for a 2-yard score. That series was set up by the Irish defense pinning the Spartans deep in their own territory so that the ensuing punt landed at midfield.
Geiger connected from 25 yards away to cap MSU's 15-play opening drive of the second half and the game remained tied at 10-all heading to the final period.
Notre Dame has won 10 straight home games ... MSU hasn't won at South Bend since a 31-14 result on Sept. 22, 2007, having dropped three in a row in northern Indiana ... Notre Dame improved to 20-12 vs. the Spartans since 1980 ... The Irish saw their first punt blocked since Nov. 8, 2008 at Boston College ... Michigan State lost despite owning a 19-14 edge in first downs and 254-224 edge in total offense.