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Alabama – Notre Dame: Inside The Numbers

gfx - by the numbersWith the countdown to the BCS Championship Game underway, we wanted to bring you a stat-by-stat comparison of Alabama and Notre Dame.  While Bama went through the SEC — a league that’s 5-3 in bowl games this season with one loss coming on a last-second field goal — the Irish did some heavy-lifting of their own.  For the season, Alabama played seven bowl-eligible teams (Michigan, Western Kentucky, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, LSU, Texas A&M and Georgia).  Not too shabby.  But Notre Dame toppled 10 bowl-eligible squads in 2012 (Navy, Purdue, Michigan State, Michigan, Miami, Stanford, BYU, Oklahoma, Pittsburgh, and Southern Cal).

So while we know a trip through the SEC gauntlet is difficult, Notre Dame’s stats are relevant, too.  Brian Kelly’s group played a collection of successful teams from all across the nation.  A head-to-head statistical comparison of the squads — therefore — should provide some insight into tonight’s contest.

We’ll start with a look at the biggest stats out there, th0se tried and true numbers that are always kicked around before a big game…

 

Scoring Defense — Advantage: Notre Dame

Notre Dame: #1 in the nation (10.3 points allowed per game… 10 touchdowns and 18 field goals)

Alabama: #2 in the nation (10.7 points allowed per game… 18 touchdowns and 5 field goals)

 

Scoring Offense — Advantage: Alabama

Alabama: #13 in the nation (38.5 points per game… 65 touchdowns and 15 field goals)

Notre Dame: #74 in the nation (26.8 points per game… 36 touchdowns and 24 field goals)

 

Rushing Defense — Advantage: Alabama

Alabama: #1 in the nation (77.7 yards allowed per game)

Notre Dame: #4 in the nation (92.4 yards allowed per game)

 

Rushing Offense — Advantage: Alabama

Alabama: #19 in the nation (224.62 yards per game)

Notre Dame: #29 in the nation (202.50 yards per game)

 

Passing Defense — Advantage: Alabama

Alabama: #2 in the nation (166.2 yards allowed per game)

Notre Dame: #21 in the nation (194.4 yards allowed per game)

 

Passing Offense — Advantage: Notre Dame

Notre Dame: #74 in the nation (218.8 yards per game)

Alabama: #79 in the nation (214.5 yards per game)

 

Total Defense — Advantage: Alabama

Alabama: #1 in the nation (246.0 yards allowed per game)

Notre Dame: #6 in the nation (286.8 yards allowed per game)

 

Total Offense — Advantage: Alabama

Alabama: #38 in the nation (439.1 yards per game)

Notre Dame: #48 in the nation (421.3 yards per game)

 

Turnover Margin — Advantage: Alabama

Alabama: #12 in the nation (plus-13 in 13 games)

Notre Dame: #24 in the nation (plus-9 in 12 games)

 

The takeaway?  Alabama has a numbers advantage in the biggest statistical categories.  The slight advantage the Irish have in scoring defense is negated — at least on paper — by Bama’s ability to put lots of points on the board.  The Crimson Tide owns a clear advantage in the run game, too.

Notre Dame’s passing offense is a wee bit better than Alabama’s, but Nick Saban’s secondary has been almost 30 yards-per-game more tight.

In overall yardage, Bama allows about 40 yards less per game than Notre Dame.  The Tide also racks up about 18 more yards per contest.  That’s a 58-yard difference between the teams in terms of per-game yardage and that’s considerable.

Finally, Alabama holds a very narrow advantage over the Irish in turnover margin, too.  UA finishes each game just about plus-one in turnover margin.  Notre Dame is plus-.75 per game.

Put simply, Saban’s team looks to be the better of the two teams squaring off in Miami tonight.  At least on paper.  But what hidden stats might hold a key for Notre Dame?  We’ll discuss those shortly.

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Report: Jones Emerges As ‘Front Runner’ For UT Job

Cincinnati coach Butch Jones has emerged as the front runner for the Tennessee coaching job, according to a report from GoVols247.com.

“One source close to several coaching circles told govols247 that UT is ‘(Jones’) job to turn down,’ and that focus would most likely shift to Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart if Jones doesn’t accept it.”

It should be pointed out that govols247 has not reported Jones has an actual offer in hand. In fact, Volquest.com reported Thursday night that Jones hasn’t received an offer and hasn’t met face-to-face with Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart.

Jones, who has a 50-27 career record as a head coach, is in his third season at Cincinnati. The Bearcats finished the regular season with a 9-3 record and accepted a bid to play Duke in the Belk Bowl on Dec. 27.

Here’s what we wrote earlier today on Jones:

“Butch Jones of Cincinnati is a Brian Kelly disciple who should have gotten more play on Tennessee’s list to begin with. He doesn’t have the SEC background of (Charlie) Strong, but he does have a longer track record as a head coach at multiple schools. And if you’re willing to throw money at Louisville’s coach, what’s the big deal with throwing cash at Cincinnati’s coach? That path sure seems to have worked out well for Notre Dame.”

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Neal Officially Headed To Notre Dame

Wide receiver Davonte Neal from Scottsdale, Ariz., has signed his letter of intent with Notre Dame.

Neal, who ended a dramatic recruitment with his announcement on Tuesday, chose the Fighting Irish over Arkansas, Arizona and North Carolina.

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly (not surprisingly) applauded Neal’s decision.

“Deciding on a college is one of the toughest decisions a young player makes in his life, so we are very pleased with Davonte’s decision to attend Notre Dame,” Kelly said in a statement released by the school. “Davonte was an electric playmaker in high school and was capable of making the big play any time he had the ball in his hands. He excelled as a receiver, as a running back and as a returner for Coach (Charlie) Ragle at Chaparral High School. I imagine we’ll use him in a similar fashion here.”

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