EAST LANSING, Mich. >> Everett Golson made plays with his arms and legs, and an inspired Manti Te’o helped Notre Dame’s defense smother Michigan State.
The Fighting Irish are off to their best start in 10 years, with the type of marquee victory that’s eluded them for almost as long.
Golson threw a touchdown pass and ran for a score in the first half to help the 20th-ranked Fighting Irish dominate the 10th-ranked Spartans 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.
“It’s a signature win,” third-year Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said.
And Te’o was the signature player.
The senior linebacker had 12 tackles, one for a loss, and broke up two passes, playing just a few days after the deaths of his girlfriend, who had a long battle with leukemia, and his grandmother.
“It was hard,” Te’o said of his week. “But I had my family around me. At the end of the day, families are forever.”
The last time a top-10 team scored fewer than Michigan State did at home against the Irish was in 1966 when they shut out USC 51-0. Notre Dame had its best showing on defense anywhere against a top-10 opponent since beating Texas A&M 28-3 in 1993.
“It’s definitely going to build confidence in the locker room,” Kelly said.
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.