The Fighting Irish did something that will have their fans believing they can become an elite program again and it has nothing to do with Brian Kelly's legacy as an offensive master.
Coming into Saturday's contest, Michigan State was averaging 193 yards per game on the ground. The Spartans managed just 50 yards rushing at just 2.0 per attempt against Notre Dame.
Much was made of the Irish scheduling agreement with the ACC this week and a popular reason was the fear of losing opponents as many BCS conferences go to nine game league schedules.
But another very big reason for the move was the ability to make further recruiting inroads in the South.
Those Southern players were a big reason why Kelly's defense played so well on Saturday.
According to their depth chart at Rivals.com, all three of the Irish defensive line hail from the South (Florida, Georgia, Texas). Two starting linebackers hail from North Carolina, right in the middle of ACC country, and two first unit defensive backs are from Florida and Georgia.
The SEC has been so dominant in BCS bowls not because of "SEC Speed", but because of "SEC Strength and Athleticism" on the defensive line and linebacker units.
No conference in the country can compete with the best of the SEC on the line of scrimmage, but the Irish are doing their best to pluck a few away to give themselves a chance.
Five additional games in the South can only help to continue a pipeline of SEC type athletes to South Bend.