The Notre Dame Fighting Irish welcomed the Miami-Ohio Redhawks to town on Saturday and as part of the hospitality package, laid a 52-17 beat down on the visitors. Here’s the news and the fake news from the day.
Stats That Lie
This is the second week in a row in which Notre Dame gave up numbers in terms of total yardage that would suggest that the defense isn’t playing well. The Irish surrendered 115 rushing yards and 262 up top (Notre Dame was out-gained through the air) to a MAC team, albeit one that will challenge for the MAC title this year.
In reality, these stats tell a story of a defense that is not bad, it’s just backing an explosive (on the ground) offense. Notre Dame put up 21 points really quickly on Saturday. As a result, the RedHawks had about 11 minutes more time of possession to work with than Notre Dame; that’s an extra 11 minutes of the defense being on the field and not the offense.
Given these facts, 377 yards isn’t bad. To further solidify the narrative, the Fighting Irish forced two turnovers. The defense is highly improved, so don’t let the high total yardage from the past two games fool you into thinking something else.
On the other side of the ball, I won’t go so far as to say that 503 yards of offense is a lie. But if you watched the game, you’d know that that overall total masks some underlying weaknesses. Brandon Wimbush still struggles to move the ball through the air, and took two sacks on the day. As was the case against a good team like Georgia, this will hurt the Irish in the future if it is not ironed out.
Stats That Don’t
52-17. 28-7 in the first quarter. Notre Dame was bigger, stronger, and faster than Miami-Ohio on Saturday, and the score indicates that reality. Often the talent and depth disparity between teams won’t be truly apparent until the second half, when the emotions and adrenaline of the underdog playing in an iconic stadium wear off. However, on Saturday, it was evident from the second play from scrimmage for the Notre Dame Offense.
Given the obvious talent advantage and apparent focus and killer instinct from the Irish, there was no hanging around for the RedHawks. You’re just not coming back from a 42-14 deficit against a team as talented as Notre Dame if you’re Miami.
Notre Dame quarterback Brandon Wimbush threw three touchdown passes, but was only 7/18 for 119 yards. He also tacked on 11 carries for 36 yards. These stats are indicative of a quarterback who is still figuring it out, but should we really be at that place five games into the season? We’ll see if Wimbush figures it out.