On Thursday, the question was posed to former Notre Dame superstar tailback Randy Kinder asking him to rank the Fighting Irish's biggest rivals in college football. A few weeks ago, former University of Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson was asked the same question. Robinson's response was quite "matter-of-fact":
"Of course we've got to say Ohio (State's) the biggest one," he told the Big Ten Network. "(Then) Notre Dame and (No. 3) Michigan State, our little brothers."
As for Kinder's response? Well, he looks at it a bit differently.
“It’s Michigan State first and Michigan a close second,” Randy Kinder said. “Then USC. Then everyone else. But I am severely biased.”
Kinder, who was an East Lansing High School grad, chose the Irish (2-1) over the Spartans (3-0) and Wolverines (3-0) back when he was one of the country's top recruits. From 1993-96, Kinder rushed for 2,295 yards for Notre Dame, many of those yards coming against Spartan and Wolverine teams.
Current Notre Dame QB Tommy Rees told reporters that he knows just how important the ritualistic match up against the Spartans is for his team and fans.
“We’ve played a lot of great games with (Michigan State) over the years,” said Rees, who hopes to make it three-straight victories for the Irish in as many meetings.
Among the many great games between the Spartans and Irish is one of the most important games in college football history: the 1966 "Game of the Century", between then-defending national champion and No.2-ranked Michigan State and No.1-ranked Notre Dame (the game ended in a tie, 10-10).
Only the Trojans of the University of Southern California have more wins over the Irish than the Spartans do (35 to 28). In the past 16 meetings between Notre Dame and Michigan State, the Spartans have won the battle 10 times, and many of those battles ended up being very close and very entertaining games.
MSU senior linebacker Max Bullough agrees that the Notre Dame game is always a fierce one and one that he looks forward to.
“I just don’t think it’s as hostile of a game or an environment,” Bullough said. “But I wouldn’t say friendly. There’s some pretty rough games when you play Notre Dame, if you’re out there.”
Kickoff will be at 3:30 PM (EST) at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Indiana and will be broadcast nationally on NBC.
You can follow Michigan State writer Michael Ferro at twitter.com/MichaelFerro.