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Drive Charting: ND vs. Pittsburgh

Nov 6, 2012, 8:50 AM EDT

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The Irish won another thriller on Saturday, a 29-26 triple-overtime victory over Pittsburgh that featured late game heroics on both sides of the ball. After falling behind 20-6, the Irish outgained the Panthers 223 to 21 in yardage over the course of the fourth quarter and overtime. Everett Golson led two late touchdown drives highlighted by a two-play, 50-yard drive and two-point conversion to tie the game with less than a minute to go in regulation.

The defense gave up a pair of touchdowns and several big rushing plays earlier in the game, but tightened up in critical situations in the second half. Trailing 17-6, Notre Dame faced another Pittsburgh scoring threat — first and goal at the Irish 2-yard line. ND held Pitt to a field goal on that possession, keeping the game within two scores.

From that first-and-goal forward, Pitt ran 29 plays from scrimmage and gained only 16 total yards of field position and one first down. Pittsburgh could not convert a first down on any of its final six possessions of the game (three in regulation, three in overtime).

The Irish defensive dominance down the stretch is illustrated in the charts above. On the season, Notre Dame has given up 4.6 yards per play, ranking 13th nationally. On the first nine possessions faced per game this year, opponents have averaged 4.7 yards per play. From the tenth possession forward against ND, the Irish have surrendered only 2.8 yards per play.

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.