Oct 30, 2012, 9:20 AM EDT
Notre Dame played its best game of the season in a 30-13 victory over Oklahoma on Saturday night. For the seventh straight game, the Irish defense did not allow an explosive drive and Oklahoma’s only touchdown drive came on its shortest field position of the game. Notre Dame gave up only 15 total yards rushing on 24 attempts on the night.
The Irish were just as effective offensively. Notre Dame controlled the game by not turning the ball over and overpowered the Sooners with 215 yards on the ground. On three consecutive possessions, Notre Dame ran drives of 13 plays, 12 plays, and 13 plays and kept Oklahoma on the sideline for all but eight plays in the third quarter.
Two key drives of the game were highlighted by big plays. On Notre Dame’s second possession of the game, Cierre Wood burst through the line and raced for a 62-yard touchdown to give ND an early lead. With less than 10 minutes left in the game, Everett Golson connected with Chris Brown on a 50-yard pass play that set the stage for another touchdown. Both drives immediately followed an Oklahoma score, counter punches that quieted the hostile crowd of more than 86,000.
On the two drives that followed Oklahoma scores, Notre Dame gained 140 yards on nine plays (15.6 yards per play). The Irish posted a higher per-play average on counter punch drives in a game only once in the last decade — 26.3 yards per play on two drives against Hawaii in the 2008 Hawaii Bowl.
The Notre Dame defense hasn’t given up too many points this season, but even when they have, the offense has often responded immediately. As illustrated in the chart above, Notre Dame is averaging 53.8 yards per drive on possessions following an opponent score, 17.9 yards better than its average drive.
Brian Fremeau (’99) is a college football writer, stats analyst, and data visualization designer. His work regularly appears at ESPN Insider, ESPN the Magazine, Football Outsiders, and on his own site, BCF Toys. He develops and publishes numerous possession-based statistics including the Fremeau Efficiency Index (FEI), a college football rating system based on opponent-adjusted drive efficiency. Follow Brian on Twitter.
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