Friday, November 23, 2012
Did you know? Notre Dame at USC
By Matt Fortuna
As always, hats off to the folks from ESPN Stats & Information, along with both schools' sports information departments, for these tidbits.
Notre Dame has allowed a touchdown on 6.7 percent of its opponents’ possessions, the lowest percentage in the nation. Red zone defense has been key for the Irish, allowing a touchdown on 24.1 percent of their opponents’ red zone drives, the lowest percentage for any FBS team in the past eight seasons. Overall, Notre Dame's opponents have seven touchdowns and five turnovers in 29 red zone possessions.
USC has scored a touchdown on 64.6 percent of its red-zone possessions, 39th in the nation. The Trojans have scored a touchdown on 29.2 percent of their goal-to-go rushes, tied for 86th nationally. Notre Dame has allowed one touchdown and minus-31 rushing yards on 18 goal-to-go rushes. Every other team in the nation has allowed at least three such touchdowns.
Notre Dame is the only team that has not allowed a touchdown drive longer than 75 yards. Every other FBS team has allowed at least two.
The Irish have allowed 14 plays of 25 yards or more, tied for second-fewest nationally. They have allowed one 25-yard touchdown, tied with Florida and Alabama for the fewest in the country.
Everett Golson has completed 70.8 percent of his passes thrown 10 yards or longer in his past two games after completing 44 percent of those throws in his first eight games. Four different receivers have at least two catches on a throw of that distance over the past two weeks. T.J. Jones has six catches on seven targets.
Marqise Lee has more receiving yards (821) in his last four games than 52 FBS teams during that time span. Lee has gained more yards after the catch (837) this season than any player from a BCS school and leads the nation with eight 100-yard receiving games. Notre Dame’s opponents are averaging 68.4 yards after the catch per game and have allowed just one player to gain 100 yards in a game this season (Jalen Saunders, Oklahoma). Lee has five more catches and 264 more receiving yards than the Irish's entire receiving corps. Lee has gained at least 100 yards receiving in eight of his 11 games, including five straight dating back to a victory over Colorado. Notre Dame has not a 100-yard receiving game from a receiver this season.
Robert Woods entered the season on the Biletnikoff Watch List after leading USC with 111 catches and 1,292 receiving yards last season. But Lee has emerged as USC’s clear No. 1 receiver, gaining more yards after the catch (837) than Woods has total yards (721). Woods is not getting downfield with the same consistency as last season, as he has 12 catches and four touchdowns on 31 pass attempts thrown 15 yards or longer downfield. Last season, he had 20 such catches and seven touchdowns on 42 pass attempts of that distance.
USC is averaging 160.5 rushing yards per game and has gained 10 or more yards on 16.6 percent of its rush attempts. Curtis McNeal has filled in nicely for an injured Silas Redd, gaining 324 yards in USC’s past two games. He will face a Notre Dame defense that has allowed just three running backs to rush for 80 or more yards this season.