Sep 10, 2012, 1:23 PM EDT
The Irish notched a 20-17 victory over Purdue on a field goal kicked by Kyle Brindza in the closing seconds. The last-minute scoring drive led by quarterback Tommy Rees covered 55 yards in 12 plays. The starting field position on the ND 35-yard line was made possible on a George Atkinson 32-yard kickoff return. It was the second-best starting field position of the day for the Irish.
Average starting field position in college football is a team’s own 30-yard line. On Saturday, Notre Dame’s average starting field position was its own 26-yard line, and the Irish began six drives from inside their own 20-yard line. Purdue only started one such drive from inside its own 20-yard line. It marked only the ninth time since 2003 that the Irish faced at least five more 80-plus yard fields than its opponent. On those nine occasions, ND went on to win only twice, both times under Brian Kelly.
- 9/13/2003 – Michigan 38, Notre Dame 0
ND faced eight 80-plus yard fields, Michigan faced three 80-plus yard fields
- 9/27/2003 – Purdue 23, Notre Dame 10
ND faced eight 80-plus yard fields, Purdue faced three 80-plus yard fields
- 12/6/2003 – Syracuse 38, Notre Dame 12
ND faced eight 80-plus yard fields, Syracuse faced three 80-plus yard fields
- 9/4/2004 – BYU 20, Notre Dame 17
ND faced eleven 80-plus yard fields, BYU faced three 80-plus yard fields
- 9/22/2007 – Michigan State 31, Notre Dame 14
ND faced eight 80-plus yard fields, Michigan State faced one 80-plus yard field
- 11/29/2008 – USC 38, Notre Dame 3
ND faced seven 80-plus yard fields, USC faced two 80-plus yard fields
- 9/25/2010 – Stanford 37, Notre Dame 14
ND faced eight 80-plus yard fields, Stanford faced two 80-plus yard fields
- 11/27/2010 – Notre Dame 20, USC 16
ND faced seven 80-plus yard fields, USC faced one 80-plus yard field
- 9/8/2012 – Notre Dame 20, Purdue 17
ND faced six 80-plus yard fields, Purdue faced one 80-plus yard field
Game-winning drives are just as important early in the game as they are late. Notre Dame’s first touchdown drive of the game came in the 2nd quarter and covered 88 yards in 10 plays, capped by an Everett Golson 3-yard touchdown run. That drive was the only touchdown scored in the game by either team on 15 combined possessions that started at or inside the team’s own 30-yard line.
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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