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Jul 12, 2010

Kelly Against Ranked Teams

Brian Kelly beat 10 of the 13 ranked teams he faced at Cincinnati. Looking at the stats from this sample, one area stands out: rush defense.

Other factors, such as game site and turnover margin, were unreliable predictors of success. In three losses, Cincinnati split those categories: home, away, neutral once each; won, lost, and drew the turnover margin once each. Aerial strength carried the Bearcats through most games against ranked teams, but out-throwing WVU in ‘07 and VT in ‘08 mattered little. The culprit? Rush defense. Not coincidentally, three of the four largest rushing allowances resulted in UC losses.

On the positive side, Cincinnati held five ranked teams under 100 yards on the ground and, not surprisingly, won each time.

In six games against teams that finished the final AP Top 25, UC went 3-3 and allowed an average 207.2 rushing yards. Due to this poor defensive performance, Cincinnati only once out-rushed the opponent in this 6-game subset (WVU, 2009). The two times UC triumphed despite the rushing margin, it needed a +2 turnover margin on one occasion and 256 Mardy Gilyard kick return yards on the other.

These statistics are relevant because they evoke similarities to ND's previous coaching staff. Weis-led ND teams never lost when out-rushing the opponent (20-0). Under BK, UC lost once when out-rushing the opponent (Louisville, 2007). However, for Weis, the problem was generally both poor rush offense and poor rush defense. The weakness for Kelly, on the other hand, is mostly with rush defense only.

To be clear, this comparison does not predict Kelly’s failure at Notre Dame. In fact, Kelly’s rush defense, with inferior talent, averaged 35.4 yards better than Notre Dame against five common opponents over the past three seasons. Nonetheless, Kelly’s Irish teams will need to do better stopping top offenses in the vein of ’07 WVU and ’08 Oklahoma to achieve ND’s national championship aspirations.

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2012 Notre Dame Football Schedule

2012 Notre Dame Football Schedule
DateOpponent / EventLocationTime / Result
09/01/12vs. Navy Dublin, IrelandW, 50-10
09/08/12vs. PurdontNotre Dame, Ind.W, 20-17
09/15/12at SpartyEast Lansing, Mich.W, 20-3
09/22/12vs. SkunkbearsNotre Dame, Ind.W, 13-6
Shamrock Series
10/06/12vs. Da UChicago, Ill.W, 41-3
10/13/12vs. TreesNotre Dame, Ind.W, 20-13 (OT)
10/20/12vs. BYU Notre Dame, Ind.W, 17-14
10/27/12at Oklahoma Norman, Okla.W, 30-13
11/03/12vs. Pittsburgh Notre Dame, Ind.W, 29-26 (3OT)
11/10/12at Backup College Chestnut Hill, Mass.W, 21-6
11/17/12vs. Fake Worest Notre Dame, Ind.W, 38-0
11/24/12at U$C Los Angeles, Calif.W, 22-13
1/7/13vs. AlabamaBCS CHAMPIONSHIP
(Miami, Florida)
L, :(