Free safety Phil Parker's second interception of the game set up Dave Yarema's third touchdown pass that gave Michigan State a 28-23 upset over fourth-ranked Notre Dame yesterday in South Bend, Ind.
Parker, whose interception set up a first-half Spartan touchdown, intercepted Blair Kiel midway in the fourth quarter and returned the ball 42 yards to the three. After a two-yard loss, Yarema passed to Butch Rolle to break a 21-21 tie.
With four seconds left, Yarema ran the ball out of the Michigan State end zone to give Notre Dame the safety.
Notre Dame (1-1) threatened twice late in the game. First, it was stopped inside the Michigan State 15 on downs. On the last play of the game, Kiel's 50-yard desperation pass was intercepted by Tim Cunningham near the Spartans' end zone.
"I've never gone into a game in my career being whatever they called it--17, 19, 20 points," said new Coach George Perles, reading off the odds against the Spartans.
"It's not any fun," said Perles, a former assistant with the Pittsburgh Steelers. "It's more comfortable being the team that's supposed to win by that. It's all new to me."
Notre Dame had 446 yards to 225 for Michigan State (2-0), but Coach Gerry Faust said the Irish were hurt by poor field position all day. Chiefly responsible was Michigan State's Ralf Mojsiejenko, who averaged 48.8 yards on nine punts.
"The distance we had to travel really hurt us," Faust said. "When you have to drive the ball 80 or 90 yards all the time, it really hurts."
Notre Dame took a 7-0 lead by driving 80 yards after receiving the opening kickoff. But the Irish needed a 13-yard pass from Kiel to Joe Howard with 22 seconds left to tie the Spartans, 21-21, at the half.