Submitted by Jim Hurley on Tuesday, September 6, 2011 at 10:39 AM
There was a high profile game this past Saturday that saw all of the following take place.
*The home team outgained the road team 508-254, exactly doubling the outmatched foe in total yardage
*The home team won yards-per-play 6.5 to 3.5, which is a stifling performance at this level. That's what you'd expect to see in one of those virtual scrimmages where a host is laying 24-30 points in a paycheck game.
*The home team held the visitor to just 2 of 14 on third down conversions. That's just a 14% success rate! So, the defense was even more impressive than 254 yards allowed and 3.5 ypp allowed would suggest. They kept slamming the door on the opponent all day long.
Want to take any guesses?
We're not talking about Florida over Florida Atlantic, or Florida State over Louisiana-Monroe, or Nebraska over Tennessee-Chattanooga (this was actually a bigger stat blowout than FSU or Nebraska enjoyed vs. cupcakes). One of the most dominant statistical performances of the weekend was generated by …NOTRE DAME IN ITS 23-20 LOSS TO SOUTH FLORIDA!
Yes, Notre Dame.
You know about the weather delays. You know about the fumble near the goal line that was returned for a touchdown. You know about the other miscues in the red zone. But, what got lost in all the hoopla about a hyped team getting shocked on its home field while God threw lightning bolts was that Notre Dame was DOMINANT outside of the turnover category. Let's run the numbers so you can get a full sense of their advantages…
SOUTH FLORIDA 23, NOTRE DAME 20
Total Yardage: South Florida 254, Notre Dame 508
Rushing Yardage: South Florida 126, Notre Dame 117
Passing Stats: South Florida 18-30-0-128, Notre Dame 31-49-3-391
Third Downs: South Florida 14%, Notre Dame 41%
Turnovers: South Florida 0, Notre Dame 5
We don't mean to suggest this was an unlucky loss for Notre Dame. Those miscues were boneheaded, and avoidable. But…it's important for handicappers to note that the Irish did a lot of things right Saturday afternoon to put themselves in position to score. If they fix the turnover problems…which smart teams often do with more repetitions and more big game experience for their quarterbacks…then you're talking about somebody capable of outgaining Big East contender South Florida 508-254! You're talking about a team that played shutdown defense on third downs. Frankly, you're talking about a team that's very likely to MATTER during the course of the 2011 season.
ESPN showed the same handful of keystone cops highlights all weekend as they discussed 'one of the most disappointing performances of the week.' YOU need to know that Notre Dame gained over 500 yards against a Big East defense…and has the potential to play with anyone once if they can solve their turnover problems.
Can they do that? Tough call. Both quarterback nominees made mistakes, which means they both have some learning to do. Coach Brian Kelly tends to favor a high risk high reward offense. In his prior stops, that led to some very big wins vs. inferior teams, but some underachievement games vs. quality because of turnovers. You saw that all of Notre Dame's total yardage edge vs. South Florida came in the air. We prefer much more balance than that…with an emphasis on controlling the point of attack. We've pointed out a thousand times in the notebook that rushing yards are more valuable because they come with less risk.
Notre Dame will be flirting with disaster this season given Kelly's approach and the quarterback learning curves. On the days they play clean, they're going to embarrass people. Don't get the idea that they'll only be embarrassing themselves this season just because the opener didn't go well. He's building a Cincinnati at Notre Dame…which may not bring about four horsemen and an apocalypse…but it does represent a step forward for what had been a fading Fighting Irish program.
Here's what's coming up in the next few weeks for Notre Dame:
Saturday: at Michigan
September 17: vs. Michigan State
September 24: at Pittsburgh
October 1: at Purdue
October 8: vs. Air Force
Notre Dame has the kind of schedule this year that can launch them to greatness or bury them in the ground. There are a lot of 'tweeners' who are basically going to be in the 30-50 range in the rankings in terms of real football. Some will be ranked better than that at the time of the game. None of their opponents are currently favored to win their conferences outside of Stanford…and Stanford's a toss up with Oregon in the Pac 12 (and that's a season finale anyway, so the die on 2011 will be cast long before that).
The team that lost the ball FIVE times this past Saturday could be in real trouble vs. Michigan, Michigan State, Pittsburgh, and Air Force. A disastrous start isn't out of the question. But, the team that gained 500 yards Saturday could also run that table if they keep turnover volume down to two or less.
The early Vegas line has Notre Dame -3 at Michigan this week, in the first night game every played in Ann Arbor. We'll be watching that line closely throughout the week. We could well have a big play in that prime time TV showcase by the time Saturday rolls around. Jim Hurley's Network had good success picking Cincinnati games when Kelly was there. He even made us a lot of money when he as at Central Michigan. We're looking forward riding the rapids on or against Notre Dame this year based on the turnover-forcing tendencies of their opposition each week.
We hope you enjoyed the first week of college football action. Now it's time to really buckle down and get serious because the NFL is about to join the fun! You won't be out cooking on the grill this Sunday, celebrating a holiday weekend with family and friends. You'll be watching football! In fact, you'll be watching football almost non-stop from Thursday Night through Monday Night with this incredible TV schedule:
THURSDAY: New Orleans at Green Bay in the NFL, and Arizona at Oklahoma State in the colleges
FRIDAY: Missouri at Arizona State
SATURDAY: Alabama at Penn State, Notre Dame at Michigan, Mississippi State at Auburn, South Carolina at Georgia, BYU at Texas, TCU at Air Force, and Utah at USC are among the highlights.
SUNDAY: Pittsburgh at Baltimore (!), Atlanta at Chicago, and Dallas at the NY Jets highlight a blockbuster opening Sunday.
MONDAY: It's the annual doubleheader kickoff on ESPN's MNF, which this year features New England at Miami and Oakland at Denver.
Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers are in the first act…and Tom Brady is part of the grand finale. In between, big games and BIG MONEY for clients of JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK!
You can go day-by-day with us here at the website. Or, sign up for our TOUCHDOWN CLUB or RED, WHITE, AND BLUE PROGRAM for the full season at discounted rates. The longer your package, the more bang for your buck. If you have any questions, call our office at 1-800-323-4453.
If you kept shooting yourself in the foot this past week with bad picks the way Notre Dame did with bad plays…you can turn your season around immediately by linking up with JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK!