EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Notre Dame used an opportunistic
defense to beat Michigan State.
Tom Zbikowski returned a fumble 75 yards for a touchdown, set up
another score with an interception and the Fighting Irish forced
six turnovers in their 31-24 victory over the Spartans on Saturday
The Irish (2-1) got three interceptions and recovered three
fumbles in their second straight victory, bouncing back from a
season-opening loss to Brigham Young.
Freshman Darius Walker, the hero last week in a 28-20 win over
Michigan, had 98 yards on 26 carries.
Zbikowski's two big plays in the first quarter got Notre Dame
rolling against the Spartans (1-2).
His interception of Stephen Reaves' pass led to a 13-yard
scoring drive, capped by a fourth-down, 1-yard bootleg by
quarterback Brady Quinn to tie the game at 7.
Zbikowski said he noticed on film that Reaves tended to lock in
on his receivers.
"I just read the quarterback and made a play on it," Zbikowski
said of the interception.
Zbikowski struck again on the next possession. He read an option
play and stripped running back Jason Teague of the ball, then
rambled down the sideline for a 14-7 lead.
It fulfilled a prophecy by Notre Dame secondary coach Steven
"(He) had been talking all week I was going to get a strip and
do something with it," Zbikowski said. "I kind of made him proud
on that play. I just felt I could get it, went after it hard, and
Notre Dame coach Tyrone Willingham, a 1977 Michigan State
graduate, is 2-1 against his alma mater as Notre Dame's. He is 3-1
overall against the Spartans, including a win while at Stanford.
He said turnovers were the difference.
"It is something we talk about and work on every week,"
Willingham said. "It's just modern-day, defensive football. You
have to create turnovers."
Michigan State had dominated the recent series against the
Irish, winning six of the previous seven games -- including all five
when Notre Dame was coached by Bob Davie.
Michigan State scored early in the first quarter on a blocked
punt by Marshall Campbell. The punt was recovered in the end zone
by Jerramy Scott to give Michigan State a 7-0 lead.
But the Spartans couldn't keep the momentum, committing four
first-half turnovers. Reaves, a freshman, was benched at halftime
after throwing three interceptions. He was 7-for-20 for 66 yards.
Michigan State lost out on a scoring opportunity late in the
fourth quarter when running back Jehuu Caulcrick -- his team
trailing 28-17 -- fumbled going over the goal line. It was recovered
in the end zone by Notre Dame safety Quentin Burrell for a
"When we come into the team meeting and look at the film, we're
going to be very ill," Michigan State coach John L. Smith said.
"We're going to be sick when we look at it. The opportunities were
Reaves' replacement, sophomore Drew Stanton, led the Spartans to
their only offensive touchdown with 9 seconds left in the game.
Stanton ran in from 4 yards out.
Stanton finished 8-of-12 passing for 110 yards. He also rushed
for 49 yards on eight carries.
Caulcrick was Michigan State's leading rusher with 85 yards on
The Irish had enough on offense to secure the victory, running
for 173 yards. Ryan Grant had 66 yards on 11 carries, including a
6-yard touchdown. Quinn was 11-of-24, passing for 215 yards,
including a 35-yard TD pass to Matt Shelton.
DeAndra Cobb scored on an 89-yard kickoff return for the
Spartans in the third quarter.