Notre Dame Offense vs. Louisville Defense

Notre Dame Offense

Total Defense Notre Dame Gained vs. Deviation from Avg. % Gained of Avg
Rice 382.3 576 193.7 150.67%
Michigan 300.8 280 -20.8 93.09%
Purdue 422 398 -24 94.31%
Syracuse 344.3 523 178.7 151.90%
Stanford 277.7 370 92.3 133.24%
North Carolina 511.6 519 7.4 101.45%
Florida State 385.8 470 84.2 121.82%
Navy 427.3 533 105.7 124.74%
Arizona State 406.7 487 80.3 119.74%
Northwestern 386.1 498 111.9 128.98%
Average 80.94 121.99%

Notre Dame’s Offense regularly outperforms its opponents’ average yardage allowed.  The Irish gain 81 yards more per game than its opponents have typically allowed on the season or 122%.  Just 2 teams, early in the season, held Notre Dame below its team average allowed by a small margin.

Louisville allows 285.7 yards per game, just behind Stanford (277.7) who Notre Dame was able to exceed by 92 yards.  Louisville will be the 2nd best defense the Irish has faced in 2014, and based on this data we should expect Notre Dame to gain 348-367

Louisville Defense

Total Offense Louisvile Allowed vs. Deviation from Avg. % Gained of Avg
Miami (FL) 442.4 244 -198.4 55.15%
Virginia 383.5 285 -98.5 74.32%
FIU 306.5 205 -101.5 66.88%
Wake Forest 204.6 100 -104.6 48.88%
Syracuse 356.8 260 -96.8 72.87%
Clemson 407.3 229 -178.3 56.22%
NC State 397.3 351 -46.3 88.35%
Florida State 446.6 574 127.4 128.53%
Boston College 399.1 332 -67.1 83.19%
Average -84.9 74.93%

The Cards have the #5 Total Defense in the nation and are 9 for 9 in holding opponents below their average yards gained on offense.  Louisville holds teams to 85 yards fewer than average or just 75%.

Notre Dame averages 465.1 yards and is 28th in the nation in Total Offense.  The Irish will be the best offensive team that Louisville will play in 2014 and it will be interesting to see if Louisville’s 1st half against Florida State is the truth……or if it is the 2nd half.  We may get our answer on Saturday, but given this set of data we can expect that ND will gain 348-380.

Defense/Offense Summary

Both sets of data suggest that Notre Dame will gain 348 yards on the low end, but surprisingly it’s Louisville’s Defense set of data suggests that the Irish could reach 380 yards.  None of this takes into account turnovers, something Louisville is one of the best in the country at gaining & Notre Dame one of the most generous.  Also Everett Golson injured his AC joint in his shoulder which could cause ND to change some of its typical play-calling and perhaps even take some zip off of Golson’s passes……Everett has not missed time in practice however.

Fighting Irish Passing Offense vs. Cardinal Passing Defense

ND Passing Offense

Passing Defense Notre Dame Gained vs. Deviation from Avg. % Gained of Avg
Rice 232.4 295 62.6 126.94%
Michigan 197.6 226 28.4 114.37%
Purdue 236.3 259 22.7 109.61%
Syracuse 217 362 145 166.82%
Stanford 171.5 241 69.5 140.52%
North Carolina 283.4 300 16.6 105.86%
Florida State 246.1 313 66.9 127.18%
Navy 231.3 315 83.7 136.19%
Arizona State 233.2 446 212.8 191.25%
Northwestern 217.4 287 69.6 132.01%
Average 77.78 135.08%

Everett Golson might get some grief for his turnovers, but his production through the air is undeniable. Golson gains 78 more yards or 135% of what opponents normally allow through the air.  ND has gained more than opponents allow in EVERY game in 2014.

Louisville allows an average of 198.3 yards per game through the air.  The Irish have played two teams better than the Cards in passing defense in 2014 (Michigan & Stanford) and given what we know here ND should be expected to gain 267-276 yards through the air on Saturday…….that is A LOT for what the Cards usually allow, but the Irish have done this all season.

UofL Passing Defense

Passing Offense Louisville Allowed vs. Deviation from Avg. % Gained of Avg
Miami (FL) 245.4 174 -71.4 70.90%
Virginia 241.5 171 -70.5 70.81%
FIU 178.2 117 -61.2 65.66%
Wake Forest 170.5 122 -48.5 71.55%
Syracuse 199.4 201 1.6 100.80%
Clemson 267.7 157 -110.7 58.65%
NC State 207.8 223 15.2 107.31%
Florida State 318.3 401 82.7 125.98%
Boston College 135.1 166 30.9 122.87%
Average -25.77 88.28%

Louisville has in the last 3 games allowed teams to gain more than average, but on the year the Cards allow just 88.28% or 26 yards less than teams usually gain through the air.  Still Louisville has allowed just 3 teams to gain more than 200 yards in 2014 and just 1 team has gained 225.

Notre Dame averages 304.4 yards per game through the air and is the 2nd best (FSU) passing team the Cards will have faced thus far in 2014.  Given the data, the Irish should expect to gain 268-278 yards, virtually agreeing with the above set.

Passing Game Summary

If Notre Dame can throw for 260-270+ yards this ballgame could be tilted in the Irish’s favor.  The trends say that ND will be able to be very effective through the air, but as someone who has watched the Cards all season and knowing the pass rush & secondary that Louisville has, I’d be surprised if the Irish actually do achieve this.  As always in these data-driven previews, players play and stats can sometimes tell the story.  In the end, I think Notre Dame throws for slightly less (around 225) but the data discovery is noted for reference later.  Also, Louisville’s run defense vs. ND’s rush defense (as we are about to discover) may force the Irish to be one-dimensional, forcing more attempts.

ND Rushing Offense vs. UofL Rushing Defense

Irish Rushing Offense

Rushing Defense Notre Dame Gained vs. Deviation from Avg. % Gained of Avg
Rice 149.9 281 131.1 187.46%
Michigan 103.2 54 -49.2 52.33%
Purdue 185.7 139 -46.7 74.85%
Syracuse 127.3 161 33.7 126.47%
Stanford 106.2 129 22.8 121.47%
North Carolina 228.2 219 -9.2 95.97%
Florida State 139.7 157 17.3 112.38%
Navy 196 218 22 111.22%
Arizona State 173.5 41 -132.5 23.63%
Northwestern 168.7 211 42.3 125.07%
Average 3.16 103.09%

Notre Dame has been all over the place running the football in 2014.  The Irish have rushed for over 200 yards on four occasions in 2014, but have been held under 60 twice.  That’s unusual, but ND has gained more than opponents usually allow on the ground in 6 of 10 games thus far in 2014 and average a small increase of 3 yards more or 104% of their opponents rushing allowed average.

Louisville is the #2 Run Defense in the nation, allowing just 87.40 yards per game. Given what we know, Notre Dame will probably gain about 90 yards on the ground Saturday in Notre Dame Stadium.

Cardinal Rushing Defense

Rushing Offense Louisville Allowed vs. Deviation from Avg. % Gained of Avg
Miami (FL) 197 70 -127 35.53%
Virginia 142 114 -28 80.28%
FIU 128.27 88 -40.27 68.61%
Wake Forest 34.1 -22 -56.1 -64.52%
Syracuse 157.4 59 -98.4 37.48%
Clemson 139.6 72 -67.6 51.58%
NC State 189.45 128 -61.45 67.56%
Florida State 128.3 173 44.7 134.84%
Boston College 264 166 -98 62.88%
Average -59.12 52.69%

Louisville’s Run Defense has been dominant.  The Cards almost halve opposing offense’s running game production on the year and in only one instance (FSU) have the Cards allowed more than averaged on the season.

Notre Dame’s Running Offense gains 160.70 yards per game and is the 4th best rushing team Louisville will have played thus far in 2014.  We shouldn’t expect that the Irish will have much more success on the ground than anyone else and the data suggests that ND will gain 84-101 yards against the Cards.

Running Offense/Defense Summary

I don’t think Notre Dame will be able to run the ball very much against the Cards….and I also am not sure how much the Irish will try in an attempt to maximize downs.  The last 3 games UofL has allowed over 128 yards with NC State gaining a great deal in garbage time and Boston College being a primary running team.  Florida State is the real outlier as the Noles broke off big run after big run without Pio Vatuvei in the line-up for the Cards. Pio will return for UofL and if Notre Dame can gain healthy yardage on the ground against the Cards, game over. But I don’t expect it.

Overall Summary

Notre Dame is a good offense, Louisville is a good defense.  This is a test of strength on strength on the football field.  The conditions should be about 40 degrees with a 50/50 shot at rain and about a 14 mph wind.  That is edging out of decent conditions for passing, but it is still acceptable.

The data presented seems to agree with seasonal trends on both sides of the ball (the first time all year that I’ve been doing this) so the question becomes, how healthy is Everett Golson’s shoulder?  If Golson can throw the ball and the conditions allow him to, we could have a game.  Also, what Louisville defense shows up?  The one from the 1st half against FSU or the 2nd half against the Noles?  These factors will determine how well Notre Dame can move the ball.

The addition of Lorenzo Mauldin, Pio Vatuvei, a week off for James Burgess, Deiontrez Mount, and Keith Kelsey (who all got repeatedly cut blocked against BC) is all HUGE.  Even Trumaine Washington is back in the mix at Corner.  Louisville finally got a true BYE week and now they will go against a very potent offense with a tendency to turn the ball over.  I like Louisville in this match-up, but I think Notre Dame will take their shots and have some success but I don’t think it will be consistent enough to turn this game into a shoot-out.

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@UofLSheriff50. Louisville native, University of Louisville Business School Grad c/o 2004. Co-Founder of

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