EAST LANSING, Mich. - This time the Irish stormed the end zone.
In the same corner of the same field where Michigan State celebrated one of college football's most memorable trick plays two years ago, Notre Dame charged the Spartan Stadium turf after one of the program's most dominant performances in years.
Notre Dame didn't go gimmick.
It beat up Michigan State instead, grinding down the Spartans for a historic 20-3 victory.
Afterward, the imported student section chanted expectantly for Michigan next week at night. Josh Atkinson and Bennett Jackson scaled the wall into the crowd. Manti Te'o blew kisses before retreating to the locker room, signing off after a dozen tackles and two signals skyward after the deaths of his grandmother and his girlfriend last week.
"It's a big leap," said head coach Brian Kelly. "It's a signature win. There's no question that when you've won against the No. 10-ranked team in the country and you beat them, it's definitely going to build the confidence in that locker room."
Notre Dame earned that positivity on Saturday night. Its 3-0 start is the program's first in a decade. Its win over a Top 10 team at night is the first in two decades. And Notre Dame did nearly all of it according to plan.
The Irish wanted to reintegrate Cierre Wood into the game plan after a two-game suspension. Wood led the Irish with 10 carries for 56 yards and powered the 12-play, 84-yard drive midway through the fourth quarter that ended with a doubt-removing Kyle Brindza field goal. The 29-yard kick put the Irish up 17-3.
Notre Dame wanted to play clean offense and did, at least after a couple early miscues. Everett Golson didn't turn the football over once. The sophomore bounced back from last week's benching to go 14-of-32 for 178 yards. He hit chunk plays, including a 36-yard touchdown to John Goodman, a game-winner that came less than five minutes into the actual game.
Golson rolled right, then threw across his body to the fifth-year senior in the end zone. Goodman shrugged off pass interference to make his first touchdown grab since Charlie Weis was Notre Dame's head coach.
It was the first offensive touchdown allowed by Michigan State this season.
Golson also rushed for a touchdown for the second straight week. His six-yard sprint put the Irish up 14-0 early in the second quarter.
"A good team win," Golson said. "No turnovers. One was close, though. Just want to really go back to the drawing board and just clean up my mistakes."
The defense suspended Le'Veon Bell's Heisman Trophy campaign, holding the power back to 19 carries, 77 yards and no touchdowns. Fifteen of Bell's rushing yards came on the final play of the first half. Take that out and he averaged 3.4 yards per rush. The Spartans proved to be one-dimensional without him.
Michigan State quarterback Andrew Maxwell went 23-of-45 for 187 yards and took four sacks. The Spartans hadn't allowed a sack in their first two games.
Notre Dame held Michigan State to just three points for the first time in this series since 1988. The Irish won that matchup 20-3 too.
"It's okay man," said nose guard Louis Nix. "A shutout would be fantastic. So you can get better."
It's tough to see how defensively after potentially losing Jamoris Slaughter long term. The safety went down early in the third quarter. He left the stadium on crutches with an immobilizing boot on his left foot.
Notre Dame's defense was nearly perfect otherwise. Prince Shembo posted a career-high nine tackles and set the edge against Michigan State's run game. Freshman defensive backs Elijah Shumate and KeiVarae Russell both broke up passes. Freshman defensive lineman Sheldon Day and sophomore Tony Springmann both harassed Maxwell. Inside linebackers Carlo Calabrese and Dan Fox each played some of their best football.
"I think the most important thing is our defense continues to be the group that we committed to building when we started this process and they're starting to get to that level that can play against anybody," Kelly said. "Obviously we felt if we could get (Bell) under control and force them to throw the football, we'd much rather have that scenario than him grind the football at us.
"Once they started to throw the football more, that was exactly where we hoped the game would shift toward and it did."
Michigan State finished with 237 yards total offense, the fewest Notre Dame has allowed on the road in four years. It was the Spartans' worst offensive game since being blown out at Nebraska last season.
By the end of it, the Spartans didn't want any more. The officials didn't either.
Notre Dame took over on its final possession with 2:20 left in the fourth quarter, beginning a series of kneel downs by Golson. The final one on fourth down touched the turf with a second left on the clock, but the officials let the time elapse instead of subjecting Michigan State to more.
Then Notre Dame stormed the field, putting an autograph on the kind of signature victory the program has craved since Kelly arrived.
"I haven't been 3-0 in my life so I'm real excited," Nix said. "I think we had a pretty good performance, but at this time I think we can get better. That's the good part about it."
Actually, that might be the best part about it.