So we all know that ND has been producing – moving the ball down the field, and generally stopping the other team’s offense (4th Quarter of UM excepted). So that got me to thinking, how well are we doing compared to the top teams in the country? Are we hanging with them in production? Are we lagging? So…STAT TIME!
First, some straight up statistics that you can dig up pretty quickly at cfbstats.com – but you don’t have to, cuz I am doing it for you! BLAM!
Rankings in Key Categories:
Total Offense: 12th – producing a whopping 510.5 yards per game. (This is well ahead of Top 25 teams like Stanford, Alabama, MSU, Ohio State, South Carolina and Boise State)
Yards of O Per Play: 22nd– racking up 6.8 yards per play. Crushing Stanford, Oklahoma, Oregon, MSU, Bama, Ohio State and S. Carolina on this stat.
Total Defense: 52nd– 353 yards per game. Respectable, and ahead of Top 25 teams USF, ASU, Boise, Oklahoma State, South Carolina, and Oregon on this stat.
Yards Given Up per Play: 85th Giving up 5.8 yards per play. This really isn’t very good.
Combining the Total O Ranking and Total D Ranking to get an average, we get an “Overall Total” ranking of 32nd. It’s a somewhat odd ‘stat’, but it does give us a way of ranking teams out and understanding how we’re doing overall on offensive production, and defensive…anti-production? Whatever. You know what I mean.
And the same combined O and D metric on Efficiency (Yards per Play), puts ND at 54th.
So when you look out at the CFB landscape, ND has a team that is 32nd in Production overall, and 54th in Production Efficiency. That’s not too shabby. The defense got hurt in the 4th Quarter of UM no doubt, and without that quarter, I’m guessing they’d be in the Top 40 easily as well. So yeah, not too bad right?
But what gets interesting is comparing those stats to the Top 25.
ND’s Total ranking of 32nd (again, that’s the average of the Total O and Total D numbers) beats 12 of the Top 25. So, in essence, ND is beating about half of the Top 25 in average production on O and D. ND isn’t, however, all that efficient. We only beat 2 teams in the Top 25 in the average of our Efficiency metrics. Again, this is really dragged down by the absurd number of big plays given up to UM. But those plays count.
Now, let’s account for quality of competition. Ideally, we’d take a look by SOS. But that’s not really available in an easily digestible format online, so instead we’ll look just games against Auto-qualifying BCS teams only. Cool? Cool.
NO, not so cool! WHA-POW! Why not? Well, it turns out that only 10 teams in the Top 25 have played at least 1 game against an AQ opponent. The nerve. We’re sitting at 0-2 having played 2 AQ teams, and more than half of the Top 25 have yet to play 1 game against a team from an AQ conference? Horrible.
Anyway, ND does get a pretty big bump rankings-wise when we look only among those teams that have played an AQ team (by the way, 77 teams have done so).
Among those deciding to play some minimum level of competition in their first two games, ND ranks as follows:
Total Offense: 5th
Yards of O Per Play: 9th
Total Defense: 20th
Yards Given Up per Play: 30th
Well geez! ZAP! ND is looking really good in terms of production when you compare against teams that have actually played someone (and this is a very low bar – if you look among teams that have played 2 AQs, it’s even more stark – but the sample size gets REALLY low so not going there).
If we do my weird Overall Average thing, ND ranks 12.5 in Overall and 20th in Efficiency.
This is why ND remains a favorite over MSU. Despite the 0-2 start, this team is producing like mad, against really tough competition (relatively speaking). We all know that TOs, penalties, and mental lapses have tossed a TON of that production out the window. But ND moves the ball, and ND prevents the other teams from doing so.
In the long run, that’s a winning strategy. Let’s hope we can make that a reality Saturday.
MSU is 49th in Total O, 48th in Offensive Efficiency, 4th in Total D, and 5th in D Efficiency for an Overall Average of 26.5 and an Efficiency Average of 27. With ND at 32nd and 54th, having played much stiffer competition (MSU has played…gulp…EFFING NOBODY!), these numbers are pretty close. Once you figure in the difference in competition, it’s not a surprise that the smart Vegas types are leaning Irish.