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Notre Dame Football VS USC: Stats That Lie and Stats That Don’t

Stats don’t lie. No, wait, that was “hips”. Hips don’t lie.

NCAA Football: Southern California at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

The truth is out there, folks.

It feels like we live in a time in which it’s increasingly difficult to wade your way through fake news, false advertisement, carefully curated social media “lives”, or obviously pushed and probably incorrect narratives (lookin’ at you, Doug Flutie. We get it, Sam Darnold is a quarterback).

NCAA Football: Southern California at Notre Dame Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

But Saturday night we were treated to a rare act of transparency: that stats from the Notre Dame Fighting Irish beatdown of rival USC Trojans tell the whole and complete story. Let me tell you about it.

Stats (or Sentiments) That Lie

Well, I have to start here. You won’t find any truly misleading stats from the game Saturday, aside for possibly a discrepancy in passing yards. USC out-gained Notre Dame 260-120 through the air, but at that point, you’ve already read the total yards count. 497-336? You’re not even trying to fool us, stats gods.

Sam Darnold did go 20-28 for 229 yards and two touchdowns, which may lie about the night he had. But he also had an interception and lost a fumble, which... isn’t great. His QBR was only 53.0.

USC v Notre Dame Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

But a sentiment we heard a lot in the week leading up to the game was that there were “a lot of USC fans” in Chicago. Fearing a repeat of Notre Dame’s only loss, a now infamous “sea of red” takeover by Georgia Bulldog fans who were reported en masse in Chicago leading up to the game, many folks may have assumed that this meant USC fans were going to outnumber Irish fans Saturday night.

That turned out to be a big fat lie. And it’s really kinda silly, if you think about it. USC comes to Notre Dame stadium every other year; this isn’t a journey to a holy site like it is for teams like Georgia that never visit. On top of that, The Dodgers played the Cubs on Thursday night in Chicago. If I’m a big USC fan and I happen to have traveled to watch my also-beloved Dodgers clinch the NLCS and decided “well, better stay the weekend in Chicago,” it’s not like I’m not going to wear my USC game. It’s rivalry weekend!

The atmosphere at Notre Dame Stadium Saturday night was electric, and it wasn’t because it was full of USC fans.

Anyway, that’s that.

Stat’s That Don’t Lie

The rest of them.

USC v Notre Dame Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

377 rushing yards to 76 given up. Whoa. There’s a reason Josh Adams has joined the Heisman conversation on a national scale. And Notre Dame’s defense was just as dominant against the run as that would suggest.

Three turnovers forced to none given up. Oh, not to mention LB Te’von Coney caused and recovered one by himself, and managed 11 tackles (two for loss, and a sack). There’s a reason he was named the Bednarik Player of the Week.

Brandon Wimbush ran for 106 yards and two touchdowns, and threw for two more. You don’t need 300 yards through the air to have a really, really good game as a quarterback, especially a dual-threat quarterback. Wimbush’s stats told this tale.

Lastly: 49-14. There’s a reason Notre Dame is all over the national College Football Playoff conversation. Blowing out a top-11 team in convincing and punishing fashion will you do that for you.

Like I said, the truth is out there. Sometimes it’s even obvious! Tune in next week for more X-files.