The Hangover Effect

Under Irish head coach Tyrone Willingham, Notre Dame has struggled to shake off the effects of a loss in the previous game. The good news is that the Irish head into this week off of a win.

Coming off a win under Willingham, ND is 13-6 and outscores the opposition 24.0 to 19.8. Coming off a loss, the irish are 6-6 and is outscored 23.1 to 19.3.

What's even more startling, however, is the first half effect. Coming off of a win, ND enjoys a 12.6 to 8.9 scoring advantage in the 1st half and a 11.4 to 10.9 scoring advantage in the 2nd half. So, the Irish play roughly the same sort of football in each half of games coming off of a win.

Notre Dame's quick starts in games of late have all been in weeks following a win. ND jumped out to a 34-0 lead at the half on Stanford last year fresh off the BYU win, jumped on MSU 21-7 off the Michigan win and led Washington 31-3 at half off the MSU win.

Coming off of a loss, however, has been a completely different story. Coming off of a loss ND is outscored in the 1st half the next week 12.9 to 6.2 but then outscores the opposition 13.1 to 10.3 in the second half.

Notre Dame's two wins this year off of losses have followed this trend. In beating Michigan after the BYU loss, ND trailed 9-0 at half, but won the second half 28-11 to win the game 28-20. In beating Stanford off the Purdue loss, ND trailed 6-3 at half but then won the second half 20-9 to win the game 23-15.

Coming off a loss, the Irish have led at the half only 3-of-12 times, and never by more than four points. ND led 9-7 at half against Navy in 2002 and then after trailing 23-15 in the middle of the fourth quarter rallied to a 30-23 win. ND led 17-14 at the half against Pitt last year coming off the Purdue loss, and hung on to win 20-14. Last year against Navy, coming off the FSU loss, ND led 14-10 and hung on to win 27-24.

A good number of ND games off of a loss have involved either furious rallies to win or nearly win games. In addition to the Navy 2002 game, ND rallied from down 19-3 to beat WSU 29-26 in 2003, rallied from down 14-6 at half to BC (and 24-6 later in the second half) only to lose 27-25, rallied from down 13-3 to BYU at half (and down 20-3 later) to nearly steal the game before losing 20-17 and won the second halves of the UM and Stanford games 28-11 and 20-9 to win those contests.

It seems clear that the Irish tend to spend at least the first halves of games after a loss in an emotional funk that puts them behind the eight-ball.

That shouldn't be a problem this week, but the next time the Irish are in that position, hopefully the players and the coaching staff will emphasize a focused effort to start the next game.


IrishIllustrated.com Top Stories