Notre Dame to the Defense: A Stat-Fest for Irish Fans

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Tom O'Toole's Top Seven 'Countdown to Kickoff' Picks


Each football week, the Notre Dame Athletic website features a "Countdown to Kickoff" feature, which takes the numbers 0 through 10 and inserts a relevant statistic to match it.

Fittingly, the majority of stats are a tribute to the Irish defense, although No. 5, my favorite stat, is a celebration of all three phases (offense, defense, special teams) of the game. What follows is the portion of Notre Dame's Countdown to Kickoff not included in the slideshow; for the slideshow, I've reorganized the remaining Countdown to reflect the importance I've placed on each No. — with additional commentary as well: Lewis Moore | Braxston Cave | Mike Golic Jr
      • 10. Notre Dame has won 10 consecutive games when rushing for at least 200 yards. The Irish gained 376 rushing yards vs. Miami last week, the most by a Notre Dame team since 2000. The Irish are 22-1 since 2002 when it gains at least 200 rushing yards.
      • 8. Eight of nine offensive drives by Notre Dame gained over 50 yards and eight of the nine possessions ended in Miami territory.
      • 4. Four Notre Dame running backs recorded rushing touchdowns against Miami. It marked the first time four Irish running backs had scored rushing touchdowns in the same game since Nov. 9, 1996 against Boston College.
      • 1. Only one of the 51 rush attempts by the Irish against Miami resulted in negative yardage. The one carry went for a loss of four yards. The other 50 rushes gained 380 yards.

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MINE No. 6 — ND (9)

9. The Irish rank among the top-20 Football Bowl Subdivision defenses in nine different categories, including scoring defense, red zone defense, pass efficiency defense, total defense, first downs defense, interceptions, turnovers forced, rush defense and sacks.

Comment: This year's Fighting Irish defense has not only been dominant, but versatile. Even its supposed weakness, the inexperienced secondary, has proved a strength.

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MINE No. 5 — ND (7)

7. Sophomore DE Stephon Tuitt is tied for seventh in the nation in sacks per game. Tuitt is averaging 1.2 sacks per contest this season.

Comment: In becoming more comfortable with his responsibilities off the field, Stephon Tuitt has become more of a force on it. If we changed his jersey No. 7 to No. 1, would the relentless Tuitt lead the nation in sacks?

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MINE No. 4 — ND (6)

6. Notre Dame forced Miami into a third down play of at least six yards on nine of 12 third-down attempts.

Comment: While this is not a bad stat, the more important one is that Notre Dame has, after a slow start against Purdue, drastically improved on stopping its opponents on third down as well.

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MINE No. 3 — ND (3)

3. The Irish defense has not allowed a touchdown in three straight games. In fact, Notre Dame has allowed only three touchdowns all season, the fewest in the nation. The current three-game streak of having not allowed a TD is the longest by an Irish defense since 1980.

Comment: Even late in the game against Miami, when the Hurricanes marched down the field for a garbage-time touchdown, the subs wouldn't give in. I love that mentality!

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MINE No. 2 — ND (2)

2. Notre Dame's defense ranks second in the nation in scoring defense, allowing 7.8 points per game. The 39 points allowed by the Irish are the fewest in an opening five games of a season since the 1976 defense permitted 37 points.

Comment: The only truly important defensive stat, for although Notre Dame has given up some yards at times, when points are on the line, it stiffens. The only team better is Alabama, and it's no coincidence the Crimson Tide has won the national championship two out of the last three years.

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MINE No. 1 — ND (0)

tuitt, nix
0. Zero rushing touchdowns have been scored against the Notre Dame defense this year. The Irish are the only team in the nation to have not allowed a rushing score this year. Going back to 2011, Notre Dame has not allowed a rushing TD in seven straight games (30 quarters), the longest streak by an Irish team since the 1976-77 seasons.

Comment: I think our defense, led by the explosive “TNT” combination of Stephon Tuitt, Louis Nix III, and All-World Manti Te’o, would rather die than let someone run over them at the goal line.

Related: Reigning in the Rain: Reflections on Notre Dame’s Goal Line Stand against Stanford

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MINE No. 0 — ND (5)

1947 notre dame
1947 Notre Dame
5. Through five games, Notre Dame is the only team in the nation that has yet to trail. It is the first time a Notre Dame team has not trailed in any of its first five games of a season since the 1947 national championship team accomplished the feat.

Comment: I saved the best stat for last. Simply stated, if you never trail, you never lose, as the 1947 Fighting Irish team (which did not trail the entire season) proved.

Hey ND fans! Follow this link to get to Tom's latest ND features. Follow him on Twitter and visit him on LinkedIn. Subscribe to his feed here and email him here. And for you diehard fans, check out Suffering Irish too.

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