Skip to content

Beyond the Box Score with Brian Fremeau: Available Yards

Sep 23, 2013, 12:12 PM EST

“Beyond The Box Score With Brian Fremeau” is a weekly series that takes you inside the stats with in-depth analysis through numbers and graphics. Fremeau, a 1999 graduate of Notre Dame, is a longtime writer for ESPN Insider, Football Outsiders and his personal graphical analysis website, BCFToys.com

source:  The Fighting Irish moved to 3-1 with a 17-13 victory over Michigan State on Saturday. The win over the Spartans was Notre Dame’s 10th victory in its last 11 games that were decided by a single score. As with many of those close games, the Irish needed its defense to play its best down the stretch. They delivered.

Michigan State forced a Notre Dame three-and-out midway through the fourth quarter, and started the first of its final three drives of the game at its own 26-yard line. The Irish gave up only 19 yards in six plays on that possession, forcing a punt. Three plays later, the Irish defense was back on the field, this time facing a Michigan State drive starting from the Spartans’ 32-yard line. Notre Dame gave up only three yards before forcing another punt. After yet another three-and-out for the Irish, Michigan State started its final drive of the game from its own 33-yard line. Four plays and two yards later, the Irish had forced a turnover on downs and proceeded to run out the clock over the final 1:46 of the game.

On those three drives, Michigan State’s starting field position presented a total of 209 available yards. The Notre Dame defense gave up only 20 yards on 13 plays in that sequence, a total of 9.6 percent of available yards. As illustrated in the chart above, it was the second most dominant performance down the stretch in the last 11 single-score games Notre Dame has played. Only the final three-possession sequence in regulation against Pittsburgh last season (9 plays, negative-4 yards) was more efficient.

Under Brian Kelly, Notre Dame has won its last seven games that were decided by a single score. That streak ties Kelly with Ara Parseghian for third among Notre Dame head coaches.

1. Elmer Layden (12 single-score wins without a single-score loss, 1937-1939)
2. Knute Rockne (10 single-score wins without a single-score loss, 1927-1930)
t-3. Brian Kelly (7 single-score wins without a single-score loss, 2012-present)
t-3. Ara Parseghian (7 single-score wins without a single-score loss, 1972-1975)
5. Lou Holtz (6 single-score wins without a single-score loss, 1988-1990)

About Strong and True

Welcome to Strong and True, the official blog providing in-depth and exclusive access to Notre Dame football. With features, videos, photos, commentaries and news from inside the program, we are committed to bringing you coverage of the Fighting Irish unlike any you can find elsewhere.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

ND Football on YouTube