The Notre Dame Fighting Irish won a top-10 matchup last Saturday night in Notre Dame Stadium over the then-seventh ranked Stanford Cardinal in very, very convincing fashion. As is tradition, I will now dig into the stats and see just how genuine that win was and just how good or bad Notre Dame can be.
Here we go.
Stats That Lie
The only thing that stands out to me as potentially misleading looking back at the box and summaries for this game is that, early in the fourth quarter following a Justin Yoon missed field goal, the game was 24-17. Given what we saw from that point out (Stanford went three-and-out on their next drive and Notre Dame promptly scored, cueing the onslaught), the narrative of absolutely punishing Stanford makes way more sense.
But you’d think a Notre Dame team that ended up with such a dominant advantage in nearly every statistical category would have been up by two scores or more at that point.
Stats That Don’t
From what I can see, the rest.
Everything in the box score down to TOP (34:23 - 25:37 in favor of the Irish) indicates a butt whoopin’. Notre Dame out-gained the Cardinal on offense 550-229. That’s right, the Notre Dame offense traveled twice the distance as the Stanford offense and then said “screw it” and went 102 more yards just for fun.
The Notre Dame defense held the Stanford Offense to only 55 yards on the ground. That’s just remarkable, and is further vindication of what we already thought we knew about this defense: they are very good. Another 17 point performance on the night. They also forced a turnover.
Miles Boykin caught the ball 11 times for 144 yards and a touchdown, which reinforces another idea we were toying with early in the season. The Notre Dame receiving weapons can be really good if a quarterback could get them the ball. That quarterback is Ian Book, who further solidified himself as the answer with a 24/33 night for 278 yards and four touchdowns.
Dexter Williams was also back from the suspension in a big way.
He was given the ball 21 times and ran for 161 yards and a touchdown. Maybe only having one touchdown is a bit of a liar, seeing as it was his first touch of the season? I wouldn’t go that far, though. Dexter still had a very, very good night.
That’s really all I can give ya, folks. The stats say the Irish are good on both sides of the ball against a then top-10 team at home, and I think they just may be telling the truth.
However, don’t mark me down as a believer in an undefeated season and CFP berth yet. The Irish have to play on the road in a great atmosphere at Virginia Tech next weekend, so we’ll see how Brian Kelly has adjusted his big-road-night-game preparation strategy after what happened against the Miami Hurricanes last year.
If the Irish dominate again next weekend, then we only need to worry about playing Pitt with a high rank. Should be fun.