Just the Facts

IrishEyes' weekly look at Saturday's matchup...by the numbers.

1 – Notre Dame opponents that possessed the football longer than did the Irish in eight matchups this season. Washington enjoyed a 4:58 time of possession advantage over Notre Dame in a 37-30 overtime loss in South Bend. The Irish won the possession battle vs. Nevada (+7:20); Michigan (+2:50); MSU (+9:00); Purdue (+8:50); USC (+2:22); BC (+5:36); and WSU (+21:38).

2 – National ranking of Irish junior wide receiver Golden Tate in total receiving touchdowns. Tate is tied with Bowling Green's Freddie Barnes and Boise State's Austin Pettis with nine touchdown receptions this season. The trio trails Oklahoma WR Ryan Broyles who leads the nation with 10 touchdown catches. However, Tate has added two rushing touchdowns to his total while none of his trio of peers listed above has rushed for a score to date, making Tate the nation's leading points producer among all wide receivers.

3 – Games in which an Irish player has topped the 100-yard rushing mark this season. Armando Allen (Michigan and Michigan State) and Robert Hughes (Washington State) accomplished the feat for the vastly improved Irish ground game. In 2008, only one Irish ‘back (Allen vs. Purdue) topped the 100-yard rushing mark while two ND runners (Hughes vs. Duke and Stanford) and James Aldridge (MSU and Navy) surpassed the mark in 2007.

The seven total 100-yard rushing efforts by individual players over the most recent 33-game span pales in comparison to Weis' first 25 games as head coach in which half back Darius Walker (a one-man show) totaled 13 separate 100-yard rushing games.

4 – Notre Dame's national rank in turnover margin through eight games (17 created vs. 6 lost for a 1.38 margin). The Irish offense has lost just three fumbles (Jonas Gray, Jimmy Clausen and Dayne Crist) and thrown three total interceptions (Clausen has thrown two and Crist one).

The ND defense has recovered six fumbles (Ethan Johnson 2; Toryan Smith, Brian Smith, Kapron Lewis-Moore, and John Ryan 1 each) and recorded 11 interceptions: (Kyle McCarthy 5; Robert Blanton 2; Brian Smith, Darrin Walls, Ian Williams, Gary Gray 1 each). The program record for fewest fumbles lost in a season is held by the 2000 Irish (four fumbles lost; the team finished with a 9-3 record). In 1993, the 11-1 Irish lost just five fumbles despite employing an option rushing attack as its secondary offensive package.

5 – Consecutive matchups prior to last season in which an Irish running back topped the 100-yard rushing mark vs. the Midshipmen. Julius Jones (221 yards in 2003); Ryan Grant (114 yards in '04); Darius Walker (118 and 106 in '06 and '06 respectively) and James Aldridge (125 in '07) did the honors for the Irish. Last season, Notre Dame ran for 230 yards vs. the Naval Academy but a trio of half backs were used to gash the Midshipmen up front as James Aldridge (80); Robert Hughes (68); and Armando Allen (60) paced the ND rushing attack in the 27-21 victory.

6 – Games between the Irish and the Midshipmen over the last 12 seasons (dating back to 1997) that have been decided by 7 points or fewer (1997, 1999, 2002, 2003, 2007, and 2008). The '97, '99, '03, and '07 contests were played in South Bend and the Irish are (famously) 5-1 in these six close contests.

7 – Consecutive successful 4th Down conversion attempts by the Midshipmen over a three-game span earlier this season. Navy has converted 11 of their 18 4th Down attempts this season. Likewise, Navy's approach necessitates 3rd Down and short-yardage success and the Midshipmen have shined in this category in '09, earning 64 1st Downs in their 134 3rd Down situations (12th nationally).

Incidentally, the 13th ranked team in terms of 3rd Down efficiency is Pittsburgh, Notre Dame's opponent next Saturday.

8 – Pass completions of 50 yards or more thrown by Irish quarterbacks this season. Jimmy Clausen, of course, has thrown eight of the nine (five of which resulted in touchdowns), the most recent a 50-yard Hail Mary TD grab by Golden Tate last Saturday in San Antonio. Clausen's understudy Dayne Crist added a 64-yard post pattern strike to his classmate, sophomore John Goodman in the final period of the win over the Cougars.

9 – Matchups over the last 13 seasons in which the Irish offense has outrushed the Midshipmen's triple-option attack. Navy held a rushing advantage over the Irish in 2002 and 2005-2007 with the greatest disparity occurring in the '02 matchup when Navy rumbled for 276 yards on the ground compared to 114 by the Irish in Notre Dame's 30-23 comeback victory in Baltimore.

10 – Scoring drives of at least 12 plays by the Navy offense this season. Navy has scored touchdowns on six of those marches including a 15-play, 80-yard drive to open the contest at Ohio State in Week One.

11 – Touchdown drives of 70 yards or longer by the Midshipmen in '09. The impressive number of long scoring marches by the ground-oriented Naval Academy pales in comparison to the ball control offense of the Irish, who have totaled 18 drives of 70 or more yards and six of 80 yards or longer.

And

2 – Rank of Golden Tate among all Notre Dame players in career 100-yard receiving games. Tate has topped the 100-yard mark in 11 contests trailing only Tom Gatewood (13 from 1969-1971) on the program's all-time list.

Bonus Stat: 0 – Attempted passes by Navy in a 13-10 victory over Wake Forest on October 24. Likewise, the Midshipmen have attempted fewer than 10 passes in seven of the team's nine contests this season. Navy threw 13 passes at Ohio State in a season-opening, last minute 31-27 loss to the Buckeyes and attempted 22 passes Week Three in a 27-14 loss at Pittsburgh.

On the Horizon

Irish players that could reasonably accomplish statistical milestones Saturday vs. the Midshipmen:

Golden Tate: Needs 100 yards to tie Maurice Stovall (2005) for second place (six separate games) on the program's list of most 100-yard receiving efforts in a single season. Tate, who finished with 84 yards on 4 receptions last week vs. Washington State, has topped the 100-yard mark vs. Michigan, Michigan State, Washington, USC, and BC already this season.

As well, Tate needs two touchdown receptions to move into a tie with both Derrick Mayes (1992-95) and Rhema McKnight (2002-06) for second place on the school's career touchdown list.

Tate is 58 yards shy of passing Stovall (2002-05) for sixth place on the school's career receiving yardage list.

Finally, Tate needs eight receptions to tie tight end Ken McAfee (1974-1977) for 8th place on the program's career receptions list with 128.

Michael Floyd: Needs 100 yards to tie Stovall for fifth place on the program's list of career 100-yard receiving games.

Jimmy Clausen: With 50 career TD throws entering Saturday, Clausen needs three touchdown passes to move past his position coach and former Irish signal-caller Ron Powlus (1994-1997) into second place on the program's all-time list. Clausen would likely need every one of the plausible 18 remaining games of eligibility (through the bowl game next season) to pass the school's career leader, Brady Quinn (2003-2006), who threw an astounding 95 touchdown passes, the 10th highest total in NCAA history.

Kyle McCarthy: Needs six tackles to move past Deke Cooper (1997-199) for sixth place on the program's career tackles list by a defensive back. McCarthy needs nine tackles to move past Brian Magee (1992-1995) into fifth place on the same list.

James Aldridge: Needs 23 rushing yards to reach 1,000 for his career. Of Aldridge's 977 career rushing yards, 239 have occurred against the Midshipmen (29 yards in '06; 125 yards in '07; 80 yards in '08). Aldridge has just 15 yards rushing this season but appears to be fully recovered from a severe shoulder injury suffered in the third quarter of the season opener vs. Nevada.


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