1. Limiting mistakes is sometimes enough. We all know that turnovers have cost Notre Dame in the past. But I didn't realize just how much until I saw this postgame stat: The Irish are 12-0 under coach Brian Kelly when they don't turn it over. They came awfully close a few times Saturday, especially on special teams, and Tommy Rees did not have a great day. But they won the turnover battle 1-0, which ended up being the difference in the game.
2. Run game needs to get going. The Irish ran for just 82 yards on 32 carries. They went empty backfield on a number of third-and-short plays, an oddity considering that Rees is not a mobile quarterback. MSU's defense is among the best in the nation, so the Spartans deserve some credit, but this was not the kind of start the Irish wanted on the ground through four games.
3. Rookies step up. Corey Robinson had his best game. Will Fuller made a 37-yard catch. Cole Luke and Devin Butler saw time together. Tarean Folston even got four carries for 12 yards. (Though everyone's still waiting to see Greg Bryant on more than kick coverage.) The first-year guys took advantage of some opportunities, perhaps earning more trust as the season progresses.