EAST LANSING, Mich. – Everett Golson threw a touchdown pass and ran for a score in the first half to help No. 20 Notre Dame beat No. 10 Michigan State 20-3 Saturday night.
The Fighting Irish (3-0) snapped a six-game losing streak against ranked teams and beat a top-10 opponent for the first time in seven years.
The Spartans (2-1) had won 15 straight at home. The streak included a win over the Irish in 2010 on a fake field goal in overtime that preceded coach Mark Dantonio having a heart attack.
Notre Dame is off to its best start since 2002 when Tyrone Willingham won his first eight games as its coach. The Irish opened 0-2 last year and 1-3 the season before in coach Brian Kelly’s debut before bouncing back to finish with eight wins.
Kelly, though, is not ready to celebrate just yet with No. 17 Michigan (2-1) up next at home.
“There are a lot of things to work on,” he said.
Michigan State had its worst showing on offense at home since losing 20-3 to Central Michigan in 1991.
Golson was 14 of 32 for 178 yards and a TD, a 36-yard pass to John Goodman. He ran for a 6-yard TD early in the second quarter to give Notre Dame a 14-0 lead.
“He made some big plays for us early which put us in a good position,” Kelly said.
Andrew Maxwell was 23 of 45 for 187 yards and Le’Veon Bell had 77 yards rushing on 19 carries for the Spartans.
The Irish shook off a sloppy start that included George Atkinson running into a teammate on a kickoff return, a false start and a timeout before their first snap.
Golson missed an opportunity to connect with wide-open receiver Chris Brown on what would’ve been a TD, but the first-year starter made up for it with his arm and legs. On Notre Dame’s second drive, Golson eluded a rush as he rolled to the right and threw back across the field on a 36-yard TD pass to Goodman for a 7-0 lead.
Maxwell threw a pass on the ensuing possession into the end zone that Bennie Fowler dropped in what proved to be the Spartans’ best shot to score more than a field goal.
Notre Dame won its second straight in the series by more than a TD after nine of the previous 11 were closely contested contests.