Hitting the proverbial halfway point...
• First the bad news. With the loss to Southern Cal, Notre Dame has now dropped four straight home games, which ties the record for longest home losing streak. Despite what Chris Fowler told John Walters, it is the third time in history the Irish have "accomplished" this feat. Over the 1933-34 seasons, Hunk Anderson (a.k.a the first ND head coach to be fired after only three seasons) and Elmer Layden combined to lose four straight at home losing to Pittsburgh (14-0), Purdue (19-0), Southern Cal (19-0), and Texas (7-6). Also, in 1960, Coach Joe Kuharich managed to lose four in a row to the likes of Purdue (51-19), Michigan State (21-0), Pittsburgh (20-13), and Iowa (28-0). The current streak differs only in that all four games were extremely close contests that came down to the final minute. The excellent game notes on und.com highlights the end of each game.
Oct. 23, 2004 - Boston College 24, Notre Dame 23
A 30-yard touchdown pass from BC's Paul Peterson to Tony Gonzalez with 0:54 remaining tied the score and Ryan Ohliger's PAT provides the winning margin for the Eagles.
Nov. 13, 2004 - Pittsburgh 41, Notre Dame 38
The Panthers win a see-saw battle when Josh Cummings drills a 32-yard field goal with just one second remaining. The final drive featured two pass interference calls on the Irish, one of which nullified a game-clinching interception in the end zone.
Sept. 17, 2005 - Michigan State 44, Notre Dame 41
A furious Notre Dame comeback from a 21-point deficit ends in an overtime loss to the Spartans. Jason Teague's 19-yard run on the game's final play provides the winning point total for MSU.
Oct. 15, 2005 - USC 34, Notre Dame 31
After a clutch fourth-down conversion and a wild out-of-bounds fumble on the Irish goal line, Matt Leinart sneaks in from one yard out with three seconds remaining to hand Notre Dame its fourth-consecutive loss in Notre Dame Stadium.
• Let's talk conversion rates. Overall, Notre Dame has allowed opponents to complete 25 of 80 third down attempts. That 31% conversion rate is good for 23rd place in the country. But what's really impressive is that in the 4th quarter, Notre Dame opponents are 3 of 23 when it comes to converting third down chances.
Moving on to 4th down, ND defense has allowed 50% of opponents 4th down tries to be converted. Perhaps taking a page from Weis' aggressive play-calling, opponents have gone for it on 4th down against the Irish 16 times. That is tied with Rutgers and Wyoming for the most in the country. The stat by itself isn't very indicative of anything, but I found it interesting.
• Even the mighty Trojans couldn't slow down Quinn's assualt on the ND record book. He now owns the ND record for consecutive games with a TD pass with 11. He's also currently one good game (225 yards, 1 touchdown) away from moving into 2nd place for career yardage and touchdown passes. He's also still on pace to break nearly every ND single-season record. Perhaps the most impressive feat to me is that not only is he looking to break the single-season records for yardage and passing attempts, but he's also on pace to break the single-season pass completion percentage record currently held Kevin McDougal.
• The primary beneficiary of Quinn's throws, Samardzija not only tied a Notre Dame record (Malcolm Johnson - 1998) by catching a touchdown pass in his sixth consecutive game, he also tied Jack Snow for the 2nd most number of touchdown receptions in a single season with 9. Derrick Mayes still has a tenuous hold on the record with 11 TD receptions.
• Darius Walker's 20 yard run late in the 4th quarter was not only one of the most exciting runs of the game, it was also his longest rush of the season. To date, the longest run from scrimmage still belongs to backup quarterback David Wolke who notched 22 yards on a scamper in the 4th quarter against Pittsburgh.
• NBC is no doubt smiling as the clash with the Trojans produced the highest ratings of the past 11 years. The game scored a 7.9 rating and 17 share, which is the highest since the ND/Michigan game in 1994 that scored a 8.4 rating and 21 share. The peak rating was during the final few minutes of the game when the ratings hit a 14.2 share and 27 share.
• Breaking the season in halves, let's take a look at the average statistical ranking for our opponents in the following offensive and defensive categories.
|Season||Run Off.||Pass Off. ||Total Off. ||Run Def. ||Pass Def. ||Total Def. |
|First 6 Opp ||40.8||33.5 ||35.7 ||55.2 ||75.5 ||68.0 |
|Last 5 Opp. ||71.2||70.4 ||70.0 ||66.0 ||54.8 ||56.0 |
To be clear, the numbers for the opponents we've already played do have the ND stats factored in. It might have been more insightful to take out the Irish numbers, but it also would have been a lot more work. As for analysis, I think we can identify obvious numbers, like the fact that it appears we will be facing weaker offenses, but other than that I wouldn't try to read too much into the other numbers. For example, Navy's 15th ranked pass defense definitely helps the average for the second half opponents pass defense ranking. But are we really going to have a hard time passing against the Midshipmen?
• This one is jumping the gun a lot, but we might as well get it out in the open. If heavy favorites Reggie Bush or Matt Leinart win the Heisman Trophy, that will give Southern Cal seven Heisman Trophy winners, which will tie them with Notre Dame for the most in college football. Notre Dame has been able to claim the title of "Most Heisman Trophy Winners" since 1949 when Leon Hart made ND home to three winners and nudged the Irish past two-time winners Yale (1936,1937) and Army(1945,1946).
Who knows, on top of the memory of this year's game, maybe next year's ND/Southern Cal battle will also be a chance for Brady Quinn to nail down the 2006 Heisman and take back the title for Notre Dame. How's that for overhype and premature prognostication? Beano Cook, eat your heart out.
Season-long Running Averages
|Category||Pitt||UM||MSU||UW||PU||USC|| 2005 || 2004 |
| Yards per rush ||5.5 ||2.4 ||2.8||5.0||3.1 ||2.9 ||3.6 || 3.32 |
| Avg yards per PA ||8.4||4.7||8.1||8.8 ||12.0||7.5 ||8.4||7.2|
| Avg yards per PC ||11.0||11.7||14.8||13.1 ||15.6||13.9 ||13.3||13.4|
| Pass comp. % ||67% ||63%||55%||68% ||77%||54% ||63% ||54% |
| 3rd downs conv. ||10/15 |
|Rushing yd avg||275.0 ||104.0 ||107.0 ||233.0||153.0 ||153.0 ||170.8 (34th) ||127.4 (85th) |
|Passing yd avg||227.0 ||140.0 ||487.0||327.0 ||468.0 ||264.0 ||318.8 (9th) || 218.1 (54th) |
| Total offense ||502.0 ||244.0 ||594.0||560.0 ||621.0 ||417.0 ||489.7 (12th) || 345.5 (81st) |
|Time of Possession ||32:45||30:55||35:49||36:56 ||36:03 ||38:40||35:12||30:50|
|Red Zone TDs ||5/6 |
|Category||Pitt || UM || MSU || UW || PU ||USC || 2005 || 2004 |
| Yards/rush given up ||3.3 ||2.4 ||4.5 ||1.9||6.8||5.6||4.4 ||2.7 |
| Avg yards per PA ||6.3||5.1 ||12.1||10.2||6.0||9.1||7.7||7.9|
| Avg yards per PC ||11.0||11.7||20.4||21.5||10.6 ||17.7 ||14.8||13.6|
| Pass completion % ||57% ||43% ||59% ||48%||57%||52%||52% ||58% |
| Quarterback sacks ||5||2||1||3||0||2||13||30|
|Rushing yd against||103.0 ||114.0 ||161.0 ||41.0 ||164.0||175.0 ||126.3 (46th) ||88.2 (4th) |
|Passing yd against||220.0 ||223.0 ||327.0 ||408.0||350.0 ||301.0 || 304.8 (114th) || 281.2 (116th) |
| Total offense against ||323.0 ||337.0 ||488.0 ||449.0||514.0||476.0 || 431.2 (101st) || 369.4 (54th) |
|Category||Pitt || UM || MSU || UW || PU ||USC || 2005 || 2004 |
| Interceptions by ND ||1 ||1 ||1 ||1||1||2||7 ||9 |
| Fumbles Forced / Recovered ||2/1 ||3/1 ||4/2 ||2/2||1/1||0/0||12/7 ||27/12 |
| Turnovers gained ||2||2||3||3||2 ||2||14||21 |
|Had Intercepted||1 ||0 ||1 ||0||2||1||5 ||10 |
|Fumbles / Lost||1/0 ||3/1 ||1/1 ||2/0||0/0||2/1||9/3 ||15/6 |
| Turnovers lost ||1 ||1 ||2 ||0||2||2||8 ||16 |
|Turnover Margin||+1 ||+1||+1||+3||0||0||+6 ||+5 |
|Category|| Pitt || UM || MSU ||UW ||PU ||USC || 2005 || 2004 |
| Kickoff return average ||17.5 ||24.0 ||21.5 ||31.0 ||31.0||9.8||19.8 ||18.7 |
| Kickoff return average allowed ||16.0||18.0||20.8||16.0 ||25.2 ||17.6||19.1||19.9|
| Punt return average ||23.0||19.0||11.0||15.5 ||0.0 ||21.8||16.5||10.8|
| Punt return average allowed ||0.0 ||5.2 ||2.0||10.0 ||9.0 ||4.3||5.2 ||8.2 |
Fun Stat O' the Day: With Zibby's punt return for a TD -- the first since Willingham's first game at ND in 2002 -- the Irish now rank 8th in the country in punt return average. Odd stat of the day: Even with Reggie Bush, Southern Cal ranks 107th. That is to say, one spot behind Navy.