Regular Season Reflections
The regular season for the 2023 Irish football team is over and I think a lot of us are in the fetal position this weekend trying to unpack all the turmoil it has caused in our lives since August.
Following Notre Dame football isn’t for the faint of heart. Every season will undoubtedly bring you immense joy as well as rib crushing body blows (i.e. this year’s Ohio State game). But you keep on trucking through, though, because you can’t stop chasing that mega high.
But this year was a particularly rough journey.
As a fan, there was pain of a million, tiny “what-ifs” cuts.
As a data analyst, it was the stale data trends/analytics. At least relative to other seasons. The Irish came out of the gate dominating in a pretty balanced and methodical way. But it (90% the offense) deteriorated in such a predictable way that by the middle of the season this final outcome was almost inevitable. And it sucked to have to stick through that stretch.
But with the transfer portal, coaching carousel, bowl season hijinks, and conference realignment all running wild there’s really not a lot of value in lingering too long on the past. It’s guaranteed by the next day there’s going to be some new bombshell that throws off everything.
The college football space has gotten so chaotic that in order to stay afloat you’ve got to always be locked in and thinking 10 steps ahead. At least it feels that way in the moment. I mean look at what happened to the Pac-12. Washington and Oregon State are both left holding super toxic bags because we all got a front row seat to a real-life game theory example. Even though it feels kind of dull to be a Notre Dame fan right now, let’s appreciate that we aren’t facing anywhere near the dire challenges that other programs are facing and will continue to face until the system resets (in who knows what form).
But in a way this is all really healthy. It’s like the Hunger Games out here and we’ve seen that the best prepared and on paper favorites won’t take some L’s. So hopefully we can all just settle down on predicting things too far out and enjoy this train-wreck of a sport for what it is.
Notre Dame vs. Pac-12 Analysis
Going back to the Pac-12 reference. For much of its history Notre Dame has had a special connection with the West Coast programs. There are the storied Stanford and USC rivalries, the notable stretch of games in the 80-90s and particularly relevant 0-2 record against Oregon State. As the conference closes shop this season, the programs spread to the wind and we look to finally gain a win over Oregon State, I’d say its timely to do a look back on the Notre Dame vs. Pac-12 relationship.
Over college football’s history, Notre Dame has played 167 games against current Pac-12 members. Future Big Ten members (USC, Washington, UCLA and Oregon) account for the bulk, 65%, of those games. And USC accounts for 56% of the total games. Future ACC members (Stanford and California) account for 25% of total games played. And Stanford accounts for 22% of total games. Future Big 12 members (Colorado, Arizona State, Arizona and Utah) account for 8% of total games. The odd men out, Washington State and Oregon Stat have played 2 games a piece.
Notre Dame football has the best record (0.69, 9 wins) against the Pac-12 schools that are on their way to the Big 12. The ACC bound schools occupy the second spot, with the Irish claiming a (0.67, 28 wins) record. The future Big Ten schools (really just USC) have been the most competitive. The Irish has (0.59 64 wins) against the group. Of the schools who are left out on their own, Notre Dame is 0.5 with their only two wins coming against Washington State.
The Irish are perfect against California, UCLA, Utah, Washington and Washington State. And it’ll really mean a lot for ND to pull out a win against Oregon State in El Paso so the Beavers don’t maintain such a stain on the team-level analysis.
Big Ten Details
Big 12 Details
Odd Men Out Details
As we continue to go through the spin cycle of 2023 CFB, hopefully this article helps you do two things:
- On one hand it’ll help bring up good memories from this set of games, Pac-12 series and what the future might look like for the Irish now that programs are dispersing.
- On another hand, it’ll help remind us that no matter how much things may sting in the moment there are other programs out there who are really, really going through the blues.