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Beyond the Box Score with Brian Fremeau: Lost Opportunities

Nov 11, 2013, 9:51 AM EDT

“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 suffered a frustrating 28-21 loss to Pittsburgh on Saturday night, a game in which costly mistakes proved to be the difference in the game. With the game tied at seven, quarterback Tommy Rees threw a strike to wide receiver TJ Jones down the middle of the field, but Jones was stripped of the ball at the 6-yard line and Pitt recovered the fumble. In the second half, with the game tied at 21, the Irish drove to the Pittsburgh 4-yard line before Rees was intercepted in the end zone for a Pitt touchback.

The fumble was the first time the Irish gave the ball up to the opponent in the red zone since the Michigan game earlier this season. Combined, the two plays were the first pair of red zone turnovers the Irish suffered in one game since the Pittsburgh game last season. Since the start of the 2010 season, Notre Dame has committed 13 turnovers inside the opponent’s own-10 yard line. The Irish lost six of the nine games in which those turnovers were committed.

Two other Notre Dame possessions on Saturday night ended at or across the Pittsburgh 40-yard line but did not result in a score. Kyle Brindza missed a 55-yard field goal attempt after the Irish drove to the Pitt 38-yard line in the first quarter. It was Notre Dame’s sixth missed field goal of the season. The Irish gave the ball up on downs late in the game, also at the Pitt 38-yard line. It was the fifth time this season Notre Dame turned the ball over on downs across the opponent’s 40-yard line. In the 2010-2012 seasons combined, the Irish only had four turnovers on downs in that part of the field.

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