Notre Dame has been great so far this season.
Take out the loss to Georgia, and their average margin of victory in their 6 wins is over 29 points.
Brandon Wimbush has been refreshing at QB, because he’s accounted for 18 touchdowns (10 rushing, 8 passing) and only 2 interceptions. Running Back Josh Adams is starting to show up on Heisman contender lists. He’s run for 967 yards, is averaging 9.2 yds/rush, and has 8 TDs.
Notre Dame’s total offense is #19 in the country at 474.9 ypg and their scoring offense is #11 with 41.3 ppg. Their rushing offense is #6 with 317.86 ypg, but their passing offense has been awful, ranking #118 with only 157.0 ypg.
Their total defense is #42 nationally, giving up 361.4 ypg, and scoring defense is ranked #12, giving up only 16.4 ppg.
Impressive numbers, for sure. But let’s take a look at their schedule.
Blowout wins across the board, but who have they beaten?
Let’s look at the scoring offense / total defense / turnovers lost of the teams that Notre Dame has beaten:
- Temple: offense #112 (20.9 ppg) / defense #73 (397.3 ypg) / turnovers lost #82 (13)
- Boston College: offense #101 (23.0) / defense #94 (421 ypg) / turnovers lost #82 (13)
- Michigan State: offense #103 (22.7) / defense #4 (262.1 ypg) / turnovers lost #69 (12)
- Miami (OH): offense #97 (23.6) / defense #40 (356.3 ypg) / turnovers lost #69 (12)
- North Carolina: offense #108 (21.6) / defense #109 (451.1 ypg) / turnovers lost #113 (16)
- USC: offense #47 (31.9) / defense #76 (399.4 ypg) / turnovers lost #127 (19)
USC has the best combination of numbers here… but that USC team they beat last week is a shell of what they have been, after having so many injuries in the last few weeks. Not to mention, ND scored 3 touchdowns off 3 USC turnovers in the first half, which led to the lopsided score.
Michigan St has a great defense… but they look like they’re smoke & mirrors, even with only one loss. Notre Dame scored 3 TDs off of Michigan St turnovers in the first half of that game (just like the USC game), including a pick 6, and a fumble on their own 24 yard line.
So Notre Dame has looked great beating up on teams whose average offense would rank #94.67, scoring 23.95 ppg (and #104.2, scoring 21.6 ppg, if you take out USC), and an average total defense of #66 (and #78.4, if you take out Michigan St). These teams’ average ranking at lost turnovers is #90.3 (an average of 14.17 turnovers lost per team).
Brandon Wimbush’s completion percentage is only 51.3%, and he’s only eclipsed 200 yards passing once – 211 yards against Georgia on 19/39 passing. Josh Adams has had big rushing days against teams that can’t stop the run, but against Georgia, he was held to 56 yards on 19 carries (2.8 ypc), and against Michigan St, he was held to 56 yards on 9 carries (6.2 ypc). That’s what their stars have done against the best teams on the schedule thus far.
But here’s what they’ve got in the next 5 games:
- NC State: offense #31 (35.4 ppg) / defense #54 (378.3 ypg) / turnovers lost #1 (3)
- Wake Forest: offense #58 (29.7 ppg) / defense #43 (361.7 ypg) / turnovers lost #2 (4)
- @ Miami: offense #40 (33.3 ppg) / defense #49 (369.0 ypg) / turnovers lost #2 (4)
- Navy: offense #38 (33.4 ppg) / defense #83 (410.3 ypg) / turnovers lost #97 (14)
- @ Stanford: offense #19 (38.1 ppg) / defense #87 (416.0 ypg) / turnovers lost #21 (7)
Navy is the only team that is fairly even with the teams that Notre Dame has already beaten. They lose turnovers, they give up yards… the only differece is that they can score – offensively, they outrank every single team that Notre Dame has beaten.
Just to keep things simple, let’s take out Navy here. Because Notre Dame isn’t losing to Navy.
NC State, Wake Forest, and games at Miami and at Stanford. Those teams’ average offense would rank #37, scoring 34.13 ppg, with an average total defense of #58.25 (and #48.67, if you take out Stanford). Their average ranking at lost turnovers is #6.5 (an average of 4.5 turnovers lost per team).
NC State’s defense is ranked #54 due to their passing defense (which gave up 350+ passing yds to Marshall, Syracuse, and Louisville – the #70, #21, and #9 passing offenses in the country. Their rushing defense is #6 in the country… which means they’re setup perfectly to defend Notre Dame this weekend. Along with that, the upcoming schedule is completely different in turning over the football.
Notre Dame is about to go on a 3 game stretch against teams with the 1st and 2nd least number of turnovers given up in the entire country.
Can the Irish win games without creating off of turnovers? Their 2 biggest wins both included 3 first half touchdowns directly from turnovers. That created a completely different game in the 2nd half.
Their offense is also going up against teams that can get stops on defense. The only teams they’ve played, so far, that could get stops were Georgia and Michigan St.
There are 3 straight teams coming up that will be able to do that.
Simply put, there’s no way Notre Dame goes through this gauntlet without a loss.
So for fans of power conferences afraid of losing a playoff spot to an 11-1 Notre Dame… fear not.
I guarantee the Irish have a loss somewhere in this 5 game stretch.
…and even if they do win-out against this schedule, 538.com points out that Notre Dame still is not in control of their own destiny to reach the playoffs.
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