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Stanford 38, Notre Dame 36: Finishing drives made the difference

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Stanford 38, Notre Dame 36

Confused? Visit the Advanced Stats glossary here.

Basics Notre Dame Stanford Nat'l Avg
Total Plays 60 64
Close Rate (non-garbage time) 100.0%
Avg Starting FP 19.9 23.7 29.7
Possessions 9 10
Scoring Opportunities*
7 6
Points Per Opportunity 4.14 6.33 4.74
Leverage Rate** 81.7% 78.1% 68.2%
Close S&P*** 0.728 0.667 0.586
* A scoring opportunity occurs when an offense gets a first down inside the opponent's 40 (or scores from outside the 40).
** Leverage Rate = Standard Downs / (Standard Downs + Passing Downs)
*** When using IsoPPP, the S&P formula is (0.8*Success Rate) + (0.2*IsoPPP)
EqPts (what's this?) Notre Dame Stanford
Total 49.2 40.1
Rushing 28.1 14.4
Passing 21.1 25.7
Success Rate (what's this?) Notre Dame Stanford Nat'l Avg
All (close) 50.0% 54.7% 41.7%
Rushing (close) 48.6% 50.0% 42.6%
Passing (close) 52.0% 63.6% 40.6%
Standard Downs 49.0% 52.0% 46.9%
Passing Downs 54.6% 64.3% 30.5%
IsoPPP (what's this?) Notre Dame Stanford Nat'l Avg
All (close) 1.64 1.15 1.26
Rushing (close) 1.65 0.69 1.08
Passing (close) 1.63 1.84 1.48
Standard Downs 1.56 0.85 1.11
Passing Downs 1.95 2.00 1.77
Line Stats Notre Dame Stanford Nat'l Avg
Line Yards/Carry (what's this?) 4.37 2.85 2.88
Std. Downs Sack Rt. 0.0% 7.7% 4.9%
Pass. Downs Sack Rt. 0.0% 0.0% 7.5%
Turnovers Notre Dame Stanford
Turnovers 1 0
Turnover Points (what's this?) 4.6 0.0
Turnover Margin Stanford +1
Exp. TO Margin Stanford +0.73
TO Luck (Margin vs. Exp. Margin) Stanford +0.27
TO Points Margin Stanford +4.6 points
Situational Notre Dame Stanford
Q1 S&P 0.995 0.713
Q2 S&P 0.867 0.671
Q3 S&P 0.804 0.721
Q4 S&P 0.520 0.565
1st Down S&P 0.834 0.651
2nd Down S&P 0.793 0.626
3rd Down S&P 0.662 0.612
Projected Scoring Margin: Notre Dame by 4.6
Actual Scoring Margin: Stanford by 2

This has nothing to do with the stats, obviously, but ... what a fun game this was. Starts out as an up-and-down shootout, then the offenses get tight in the fourth quarter ... then Notre Dame scores the game-winner ... then Stanford scores the game-winner. I doubt "But hey, it was fun" is much of a consolation to Irish fans, but ... hey, it was fun.

As for the stats ... they point to finishing as the main cause of Stanford's win. Stanford, one of the worst drive finishing offenses in the country in 2014 and in the first game of 2015, has been one of the best since, and the Cardinal scored five touchdowns in five scoring opportunities before the last-second field goal tamped the average down. Meanwhile, Notre Dame twice settled for field goals and lost a fumble at the Stanford 23 right before halftime.

Formations/Basics

Notre Dame Stanford
Backs-Wide % of Plays Yds/Play % of Plays Yds/Play
0 backs, 3 wide 4.8% 2.3
0 backs, 5 wide 12.9% 7.1
1 back, 1 wide 3.2% 3.5
1 back, 2 wide 8.1% 15.8 4.5% 1.0
1 back, 3 wide 46.8% 8.2 36.4% 8.9
1 back, 4 wide 24.2% 9.7 13.6% 13.0
2 backs, 0 wide 18.2% 2.4
2 backs, 1 wide 6.1% 3.0
2 backs, 2 wide 10.6% 3.4
2 backs, 3 wide 7.6% 4.8
3 backs, 0 wide 3.0% -0.5
No Huddle? % of Plays Yds/Play
Notre Dame 75.8% 8.0
Stanford 0.0% N/A
Notre Dame Stanford
Hash % of Plays Yds/Play % of Plays Yds/Play
Left 32.3% 5.3 42.4% 6.6
Middle 25.8% 13.1 19.7% 4.4
Right 41.9% 8.4 37.9% 7.2

I love the variety of formations here. Stanford was in 1-back, 3-wide about one-third of the time but varied between about seven different formations the rest of the time. Meanwhile, Notre Dame was all zero-back or one-back but still switched things around quite a bit (and it almost all worked).

Passing

Notre Dame Stanford
Passing Comp Rt Yds/Pass Passing Comp Rt Yds/Pass
Behind Line 4-5, 34 yards 80.0% 6.8 3-3, 32 yards 100.0% 10.7
0 to 4 0-1, 0 yards 0.0% 0.0 4-6, 28 yards 66.7% 4.7
5 to 9 3-10, 26 yards 30.0% 2.6 4-5, 43 yards 80.0% 8.6
10 to 19 3-5, 56 yards 60.0% 11.2 3-3, 55 yards 100.0% 18.3
20 to 29 2-2, 45 yards 100.0% 22.5 1-1, 31 yards 100.0% 31.0
30-plus 1-2, 73 yards 50.0% 36.5 2-3, 80 yards 66.7% 26.7
Notre Dame Stanford
% Blitz: 20.0% 40.9%
Avg. Rushers 4.0 4.5
Passing (no blitz) 10-20, 200 yards, 0 sacks, 10.0 yds. per att. 10-13, 150 yards, 0 sacks, 11.5 yds. per att.
Passing (blitz) 3-5, 34 yards, 0 sacks, 6.8 yds. per att. 7-8, 119 yards, 1 sacks, 13.2 yds. per att.
Reason for INC/INT Notre Dame Stanford
QB Fault 8 3
Good Defense 2 1
WR Fault 2 0

The deep shots were connecting. Notre Dame was 3-for-4 for 118 yards on passes thrown further than 20 yards, and Stanford was 3-for-4 for 111. The blitz was rare but semi-effective for Stanford, and it was not effective at all for the Irish.

Rushing

Notre Dame Stanford
Rush-Yds YPC Rush-Yds YPC
To Edge 13-94 7.2 21-95 4.5
Toward Tackle 9-99 11.0 12-36 3.0
Up Middle 13-106 8.2 8-30 3.8

Stanford's run game was efficient -- 50% success rate -- but rarely gained more than 3-4 yards. But Kevin Hogan was just dynamite, which made the difference.

QB Activity

Notre Dame Stanford
QB Move Rushes-Yds Passes-Yds Sacks-Yds Rushes-Yds Passes-Yds Sacks-Yds
Bootleg 1-2
Rollout 3-34 1-10
Option - zone read 3-18 2-8
QB Draw 8-44 5-28
QB Sneak 1-5