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Notre Dame Football: The Irish Versus the Nation in Red Zone Performance

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A test drive of our new partnership with Sport Source Analytics.

Mike Miller/One Foot Down

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish converted 45 of their 52 red zone opportunities into scores during their run to College Football Playoff last year — and yet that wasn’t even close to the best.

We recently acquired data from Sport Source Analytics, so I compared every team that had 50 or more red zone chances in 2018 to see how the Irish stacked up against other teams. The Irish ranked 24th in converting 86.5 percent of their opportunities. (The national average was 83.8 percent.)

Red Zone Opportunities, 2018

Rank Team DOWNS END OF HALF FG FUM INT MISSED FG PUNT TD Grand Total % scored per RZ chance
Rank Team DOWNS END OF HALF FG FUM INT MISSED FG PUNT TD Grand Total % scored per RZ chance
1 Penn State 1 9 2 1 39 52 92.31%
2 Oklahoma 1 2 17 1 1 1 46 69 91.30%
3 Fresno State 2 10 1 1 1 42 57 91.23%
4 Clemson 2 8 3 2 53 68 89.71%
5 Georgia 1 1 14 1 3 37 57 89.47%
6 UCF 4 5 1 1 46 57 89.47%
7 Syracuse 2 2 22 1 1 1 1 45 75 89.33%
8 LSU 1 18 2 2 1 31 55 89.09%
9 Memphis 1 10 3 3 46 63 88.89%
10 Mississippi 1 21 2 3 27 54 88.89%
11 Ohio 2 12 2 2 2 52 72 88.89%
12 Oklahoma State 2 14 2 3 42 63 88.89%
13 Army 1 1 9 1 4 42 58 87.93%
14 Texas Tech 2 11 3 1 1 40 58 87.93%
15 Houston 2 1 5 1 2 1 45 57 87.72%
16 Missouri 2 14 2 3 36 57 87.72%
17 Washington State 1 1 6 1 3 2 50 64 87.50%
18 Michigan 2 2 15 2 1 33 55 87.27%
19 North Carolina State 1 2 19 2 2 2 42 70 87.14%
20 Utah State 1 2 14 1 1 3 40 62 87.10%
21 Wisconsin 9 1 1 4 1 37 53 86.79%
22 North Texas 2 3 14 2 1 38 60 86.67%
23 Middle Tennessee 1 17 1 5 28 52 86.54%
24 Notre Dame 2 13 2 3 32 52 86.54%
Sport Source Analytics

The Irish’s seven misses were as follows: three missed field goals, two interceptions and two kneel downs at the end of games against the Stanford Cardinal and Pittsburgh Panthers.

If I take out kneel downs, the Irish improve to 90 percent conversion and would rank 14th among all Football Bowl Subdivision teams that had 50 or more red zone opportunities.

If I had not necessitated 50 or more opportunities, Notre Dame would have ranked 45th among all FBS schools in red zone conversions. (The Alabama Crimson Tide is 78th on that list, and 29th among those who had 50 or more tries.)

I also looked at which teams were the best at converting their red zone opportunities into touchdowns. The 2018 Irish scored 32 touchdowns, or on 61.5 percent of their chances. (That was about one percent below the national average.)

The Irish were 35th best among those with 50 or more red zone opportunities at converting those chances into touchdowns. Here’s the top 25:

Converting Red Zone Chances Into TDs, 2018

Rank Team Code DOWNS END OF HALF FIELD GOAL FUMBLE INTERCEPTION MISSED FIELD GOAL PUNT TOUCHDOWN Grand Total Touchdown/chances
Rank Team Code DOWNS END OF HALF FIELD GOAL FUMBLE INTERCEPTION MISSED FIELD GOAL PUNT TOUCHDOWN Grand Total Touchdown/chances
1 UCF 4 5 1 1 46 57 80.70%
2 Houston 2 1 5 1 2 1 45 57 78.95%
3 Washington State 1 1 6 1 3 2 50 64 78.13%
4 Clemson 2 8 3 2 53 68 77.94%
5 Penn State 1 9 2 1 39 52 75.00%
6 Oregon 2 5 1 3 2 38 51 74.51%
7 Liberty 1 1 6 3 2 37 50 74.00%
8 Fresno State 2 10 1 1 1 42 57 73.68%
9 Memphis 1 10 3 3 46 63 73.02%
10 Army 1 1 9 1 4 42 58 72.41%
11 Ohio 2 12 2 2 2 52 72 72.22%
12 Alabama 3 2 10 1 1 4 1 53 75 70.67%
13 Appalachian State 1 8 1 3 3 38 54 70.37%
14 Wisconsin 9 1 1 4 1 37 53 69.81%
15 BYU 4 8 1 2 1 36 52 69.23%
16 Texas Tech 2 11 3 1 1 40 58 68.97%
17 Georgia Tech 5 2 6 4 1 40 58 68.97%
18 Iowa 3 9 1 4 36 53 67.92%
19 Oklahoma 1 2 17 1 1 1 46 69 66.67%
20 Oklahoma State 2 14 2 3 42 63 66.67%
21 West Virginia 4 2 8 1 3 35 53 66.04%
22 Western Michigan 3 2 9 1 4 36 55 65.45%
23 Buffalo 4 2 7 2 4 4 43 66 65.15%
24 Georgia 1 1 14 1 3 37 57 64.91%
25 Utah State 1 2 14 1 1 3 40 62 64.52%
Sport Source Analytics

This is just scratching the surface. There is data on seemingly everything. I’m looking forward to using Sports Source Analytics to provide a national context to the Irish’s performance this upcoming season.