Study Hall: Notre Dame 15, Pittsburgh 12

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 24: A general view of Heinz Field during the game between the Pittsburgh Panthers and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish during the game on September 24, 2011 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Have OSU-ATM, Clemson-FSU, Arky-Bama, ND-Pitt, ASU-USC scheduled to receive the Study Hall treatment. What else?
Sep 27 via TweetDeckFavoriteRetweetReply

@SBN_BillC nd-pitt? are you a masochist?
Sep 27 via webFavoriteRetweetReply

@BlatantHomerism Notre Dame is this year's Oregon for me, evidently. Just fascinated by how the numbers and my eyeballs disagree.
Sep 27 via TweetDeckFavoriteRetweetReply

Notre Dame 15, Pittsburgh 12

Notre Dame Pittsburgh Notre Dame Pittsburgh
Close % 100.0% STANDARD DOWNS
Field Position % 41.1% 38.6% Success Rate 46.8% 39.1%
Leverage % 64.4% 65.7% PPP 0.31 0.16
S&P 0.777 0.552
TOTAL
EqPts 19.5 13.2 PASSING DOWNS
Close Success Rate 41.1% 38.6% Success Rate 30.8% 37.5%
Close PPP 0.27 0.19 PPP 0.19 0.24
Close S&P 0.678 0.574 S&P 0.500 0.616
RUSHING TURNOVERS
EqPts 10.3 5.6 Number 2 0
Close Success Rate 46.7% 34.4% Turnover Pts 9.4 0.0
Close PPP 0.34 0.17 Turnover Pts Margin -9.4 +9.4
Close S&P 0.811 0.518
Line Yards/carry 3.01 2.62 Q1 S&P 0.399 0.436
Q2 S&P 0.931 0.611
PASSING Q3 S&P 0.392 0.606
EqPts 9.2 7.6 Q4 S&P 0.915 0.563
Close Success Rate 37.2% 42.1%
Close PPP 0.21 0.20 1st Down S&P 0.582 0.437
Close S&P 0.586 0.621 2nd Down S&P 0.885 0.789
SD/PD Sack Rate 4.2% / 5.3% 16.7%/15.0% 3rd Down S&P 0.503 0.498
Projected Pt. Margin: Notre Dame +-3.0 | Actual Pt. Margin: Notre Dame +3

Five Thoughts

  1. Both teams ran under 42% of their plays in opposing territory, and both faced a higher than normal number of passing downs. This is not a recipe for a watchable game. Even as things got really tight down the stretch, I still felt free to flip channels for a few minutes at a time, knowing I probably wasn't going to miss anything while I was gone.

  2. Typically, producing a Passing Downs S&P higher than your Standard Downs S&P is a sign of an exciting offense and some serious play-making. In Pitt's case, it was a sign that their standard downs offense was atrocious. Notre Dame's was only marginally better.

  3. Enough negativity. Things that impressed me from Notre Dame: their pass rush (then again, Tino Sunseri got lit up by Maine too) and their Q2 and Q4 offense. They did what they needed to do, even if they were god-awful in Q1 and Q3. Things that impressed me from Pitt: their pass defense. Michael Floyd was only targeted five times (four catches, 27 yards), and he wasn't exactly roaming free downfield that much.

  4. Once again, Notre Dame committed a potentially devastating turnover deep in Pittsburgh territory (a pass that was picked off at the Pitt 5), but once again they proved they can overcome  anything less than 20 points' worth of turnovers or more. Odd, odd year for Notre Dame. I still don't know if they're almost good or almost terrible. I'm leaning toward almost good, but I'd appreciate it if they backed me up in that sentiment a few more times a game. (Same with PItt, really. They've shown quite a bit of competence but have still managed to get in their own way too much.)

  5. God, Jonas Gray's touchdown run was both gorgeous and completely out of nowhere.

Quick glossary after the jump.

A Quick Glossary

F/+ Rankings: The official rankings for the college portion of Football Outsiders. They combine my own S&P+ rankings (based on play-by-play data) with Brian Fremeau's drives-based FEI rankings.

Passing Downs: Second-and-7 or more, third-and-5 or more.

PPP: An explosiveness measure derived from determining the point value of every yard line (based on the expected number of points an offense could expect to score from that yard line) and, therefore, every play of a given game.

S&P+: Think of this as an OPS (the "On-Base Plus Slugging" baseball measure) for football. The 'S' stands for success rates, a common Football Outsiders efficiency measure that basically serves as on-base percentage. The 'P' stands for PPP+, an explosiveness measure that stands for EqPts Per Play. The "+" means it has been adjusted for the level of opponent, obviously a key to any good measure in college football. S&P+ is measured for all non-garbage time plays in a given college football game. Plays are counted within the following criteria: when the score is within 28 points in the first quarter, within 24 points in the second quarter, within 21 points in the third quarter, and within 16 points (i.e. two possession) in the fourth quarter. For more about this measure, visit the main S&P+ page at Football Outsiders.

Standard Downs: First downs, second-and-6 or less, third-and-4 or less.

Success Rate: A common Football Outsiders tool used to measure efficiency by determining whether every play of a given game was successful or not. The terms of success in college football: 50 percent of necessary yardage on first down, 70 percent on second down, and 100 percent on third and fourth down.

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