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Notre Dame Football: The Ten Most Deflating QB Turnovers of the Brian Kelly Era

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Happy Friday! Sorry to spoil your good mood.

Tulsa v Notre Dame Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

This is a diary of hate.

I’ve spent the past month re-watching the 142 turnovers committed by Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterbacks in the Brian Kelly era.

It’s as depressing as you can imagine, but it helped me answer this question:

(I later included fumbles lost by the quarterback for the purposes of this story.)

I then used Pro Football Reference’s Win Probability Calculator to create a mathematical determination of “most deflating turnover,” which I can express as:

Chance the Irish were going to win the game before the turnover

minus

the chance they would win the game at the start of the ensuing Notre Dame offensive drive

If the Irish didn’t get the ball back after the turnover, then the second number was zero.

Any Irish fan who has been watching since 2010 can guess the most deflating turnover of the Brian Kelly era. But how many of these other malevolent miscues are still burned into your tortured psyche?

#10 FROM CHAMPS TO CHUMPS, PART ONE

Quarterback: Andrew Hendrix
Opponent: Florida State Seminoles
Scenario: 4th quarter, 14:13 remaining, winning by 5, ball at own 31, 2nd down and 10 to go
Expected points: 0.46 points
Win probability before turnover: 82.6 percent
Opponent result on ensuing drive: Touchdown
Win probability before start of following Irish drive: 50 percent
Final result: Seminoles win Champs Sports Bowl, 18-14.

#9 THE UNRAVELING IN PALO ALTO

Quarterback: Brandon Wimbush
Opponent: Stanford Cardinal
Scenario: 4th quarter, 13:46 remaining, losing by 4, ball at own 25, 1st down and 10 to go
Expected points: 0.67 points
Win probability before turnover: 33.8 percent
Opponent result on ensuing drive: Touchdown
Win probability before start of following Irish drive: 0.10 percent
Final result: Stanford wins, 38-20.

This is actually a double whammy. Not only does Wimbush throw an interception to give Stanford excellent field position, C.J. Sanders fumbles the kickoff following the resulting Cardinal touchdown. What was once a four-point deficit becomes an 18-point deficit in just 3:36 of play.

Brandon Wimbush’s fourth quarter pick against Stanford in 2017 set the Cardinal up perfectly to extend its lead to two scores.
ABC/ESPN

#8 ROLLOUT RUIN

Quarterback: Dayne Crist
Opponent: Michigan State Spartans
Scenario: 2nd quarter, 5:44 remaining, winning by 7, ball at opponent 27, 1st down and 10 to go
Expected points: 3.775 points
Win probability before turnover: 79.9 percent
Opponent result on ensuing drive: Touchdown
Win probability before start of following Irish drive: 46.20 percent
Final result: Michigan State wins, 34-31, in overtime.

Ending this drive with at least three points would have negated the need for a “Little Giants” ending.
ABC/ESPN

#7 FADE CAN’T CONNECT

Quarterback: DeShone Kizer
Opponent: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Scenario: 2nd quarter, 7:01 remaining, leading by 7, ball at opponent 5, 3rd and goal to go
Expected points: 4.265 points
Win probability before turnover: 86.9 percent
Opponent result on ensuing drive: Touchdown
Win probability before start of following Irish drive: 52.4 percent
Final result: Notre Dame wins, 30-22.

DeShone Kizer’s first start included this misjudged fade pass to a very tall, agile Corey Robinson.
NBC

#6 FAILURE UNDER PRESSURE

Quarterback: Tommy Rees
Opponent: Pittsburgh Panthers
Scenario: 3rd quarter, 6:45 remaining, losing by 4, ball at own 47, 2nd and 8 to go
Expected points: 1.654 points
Win probability before turnover: 67.3 percent
Opponent result on ensuing drive: Touchdown
Win probability before start of following Irish drive: 29.7 percent
Final result: Notre Dame wins, 29-26, in triple overtime.

Tyrone Ezell beats Mike Golic Jr. to create the pressure on Rees.

This pass was so bad, it prompted Dan Hicks to say, “Rees just gifted it to him!”
NBC

#5 SAIL AWAY

Quarterback: Tommy Rees
Opponent: Pittsburgh
Scenario: 4th quarter, 10:42 remaining, tied game, ball at own 24, 2nd and 10 to go
Expected points: -0.002 points
Win probability before turnover: 55 percent
Opponent result on ensuing drive: Touchdown
Win probability before start of following Irish drive: 11.3 percent
Final result: Pittsburgh wins, 28-21.

Perhaps better known as the game where Stephon Tuitt was ejected for a targeting call, this interception proved to be too much to overcome after Pittsburgh converted it into a touchdown on the ensuing drive.
ABC/ESPN

#4 FROM CHAMPS TO CHUMPS, PART TWO

Quarterback: Tommy Rees
Opponent: Florida State
Scenario: 4th quarter, 2:54 remaining, losing by 4, ball at opponent 28, 1st and 10 to go
Expected points: 3.709 points
Win probability before turnover: 52.84 percent
Opponent result on ensuing drive: No points
Win probability before start of following Irish drive: 7.33 percent
Final result: Seminoles win, 18-14.

#3 STRIP SACK SEALS

Quarterback: Brandon Wimbush
Opponent: Georgia Bulldogs
Scenario: 4th quarter, 1:37 remaining, losing by 1, ball at own 36, 1st and 10 to go
Expected points: 1.333 points
Win probability before turnover: 45.7 percent
Opponent result on ensuing drive: No points
Win probability before start of following Irish drive: Zero percent
Final result: Georgia wins, 20-19.

Davin Bellamy beats Mike McGlinchey, strips Brandon Wimbush and Lorenzo Carter recovers. Game over.
NBC

#2: FUMBLE ON THE ONE

Quarterback: Dayne Crist
Opponent: USC Trojans
Scenario: 3rd quarter, 53 seconds remaining, losing by 7, ball at opponent 1, 3rd and goal to go
Expected points: 5.173 points
Win probability before turnover: 54.7 percent
Opponent result on ensuing drive: Touchdown (scoop and score)
Win probability before start of following Irish drive: 7.2 percent
Final result: USC wins, 31-17.

The rotation among Tommy Rees, Dayne Crist and Andrew Hendrix clearly did not work.
Pat Karpinski / YouTube

#1: “GET USED TO IT”

Quarterback: Tommy Rees
Opponent: Tulsa Golden Hurricanes
Scenario: 4th quarter, 42 seconds remaining, losing by 1, ball at opponent 19, 2nd and 8 to go
Expected points: 3.8983 points
Win probability before turnover: 83.77 percent
Opponent result on ensuing drive: No points
Win probability before start of following Irish drive: Zero percent
Final result: Tulsa wins, 28-27.

The Irish literally snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.
KJRH-TV / YouTube

Which play were you sure would make the list but didn’t? Leave them in the comments below and I’ll tell you the win probability before and after the turnover you specify.

Poll

What was the most deflating turnover by a Notre Dame quarterback in Brian Kelly era?

This poll is closed

  • 28%
    Tommy Rees’ interception vs. Tulsa
    (84 votes)
  • 22%
    Dayne Crist’s goal-line fumble vs. USC
    (66 votes)
  • 36%
    Brandon Wimbush’s fumble vs. Georgia
    (110 votes)
  • 1%
    Rees’ Champs Sports Bowl interception
    (3 votes)
  • 4%
    Ian Book’s pick six against Miami
    (12 votes)
  • 4%
    Rees’ red zone fumble against Michigan
    (14 votes)
  • 3%
    Other (leave in comments)
    (9 votes)
298 votes total Vote Now