FanPost

Inside the Numbers: USC Trojans vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish


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A look at the upcoming game using S&P+ and FEI.

S&P+ is created by Bill Connelly. S&P+ is an advanced statistical measure, which combines success rate, explosiveness per play and opponent adjustments. For an explanation of the terms used, see here, here, and here.

How S&P+ sees the game:

Overall When USC Has the Ball… When Notre Dame has the Ball…
Category USC Notre Dame USC Off ND Def USC Def ND Off
F/+ Rk 20 36
S&P+ 23 (235.6) 51 (213.6) 68 (98.2) 75 (101.4) 10 (137.4) 29 (112.2)
Play Efficiency 55 (103.8) 67 (100) 12 (127.6) 19 (117.3)
Rushing S&P+ 24 (120.4) 62 (106.8) 6 (143.1) 10 (134.1)
Passing S&P+ 81 (93.6) 53 (106.8) 27 (117.4) 54 (105.2)
Std. Downs S&P+ 21 (123.1) 31 (118.1) 9 (142) 17 (127.3)
Pass Downs S&P+ 63 (100.9) 70 (97.2) 18 (126.4 19 (124.5)
Drive Efficiency 78 (92.6) 78 (102.9) 9 (147.2) 40 (107.1)
Difference in Net Points 78 (-0.08) 71 (-0.32) 61 (-0.58) 40 (-0.12)

When USC has the ball…

USC should have an advantage running the ball against the average Notre Dame defense. The rushing offense is playing at a high level and there will be opportunities there. If the running game is unsuccessful, it could be a long day as the Irish, while only having an average pass defense, are still rated much higher than the Trojan passing attack. Hopefully, Cody Kessler will be able to continue the improvement shown during the Arizona game.

When Notre Dame has the ball…

Despite the uptick in points scored against the USC defense in the last two games, they are still ranked at 10 overall. The defense has the largest advantage defending against Notre Dame’s passing game. Another area where USC has a distinct advantage is drive efficiency. My take on this is that the defense, when they give up yards they give them up in chunks but will occasionally get a stop or cause a turnover.

FEI is the Fremeau Efficiency Index, created by Brian Fremeau. FEI is an advanced statistical measure for college football that tracks drive efficiency instead of per play success. For an explanation of the terms used, see here, here, and here.

How FEI sees the game:

Overall When USC Has the Ball… When Notre Dame has the Ball…
Category USC Notre Dame USC Off ND Def USC Def ND Off
F/+ Rk 20 36
FEI Rk 32 (.112) 39 (.093) 18 (.402) 55 (-.091) 17 (-.440) 21 (.349)
Field Position 34 (.536) 51 (.514)
Raw OE/DE 74 (-.110) 80 (.114) 26 (-.340) 52 (.098)
First Down rate 58 (.676) 73 (.691) 26 (.597) 72 (.642)
Available Yards Rate 81 (.424) 73 (.467) 17 (.346) 52 (.481)
Explosive Drives 42 (.149) 45 (.103) 69 (.125) 57 (.134)
Methodical Drives 104 (.081) 89 (.176) 34 (.111) 61 (.149)
Value Drives 77 (.365) 72 (.406) 7 (.242) 32 (.460)
Special Team rank 53 (.491) 48 (.772)
Field Goal efficiency 81 (-.199) 74 (-.108)
Punt Return efficiency 30 (.038) 35 (.018)
Kickoff return efficiency 92 (-.260) 26 (-.029)
punt efficiency 55 (-.097) 64 (-.059)
kickoff efficiency 23 (-.295) 73 (-.150)

When USC has the ball:

According to the raw numbers, USC’s offense is average at best. The good news it that Notre Dame’s defense is even more average. The Irish do not cause many 3 and outs and will give up a drive of 10 plays or more almost 20% of the time. Unfortunately, being methodical is not a strength of the USC offense.

When Notre Dame has the ball:

The USC defense holds advantages across the board against the Notre Dame offense except when it comes to explosive plays, which is expected of an aggressive unit. The defense will stop teams early but will give up the big play. When Notre Dame moves the ball, look for it to come in chunks.

Special Teams:

Notre Dame has an advantage in raw numbers on special teams due to the Trojans’ horrendous kickoff return ranking. All other aspects of special teams are somewhat even and I would be surprised if either team breaks a big play.

Prediction:

Vegas and the experts see USC as the underdog in this game. The numbers tell me that the game will start out as a defensive struggle with the team who makes the most plays in the passing game getting the victory. I think the Trojans will pull this one out 31-27, for no other reason other than Cody Kessler only has trouble with teams that have "State" in their name.


This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Conquest Chronicles' writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Conquest Chronicles' writers or editors.

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