Here are 10 stats to get you primed for Alabama and Notre Dame tonight:
1. 38.5 vs. 26.8
Much has been made about both defenses, but both offenses aren’t bad, either. Particularly, Alabama has put up some serious points throughout the year, averaging 38.5 points per game compared to Notre Dame’s 26.8. Ironically it will be the offenses that decide tonight’s game, not the defenses. Alabama’s points per game shows they put the ball in the end zone when given the opportunity.
2. 71.93% vs. 46.55%
And let’s parlay right into the red zone numbers, shall we? Alabama has scored touchdowns 71.93 percent of the time in the red zone, while Notre Dame has scored touchdowns only 46.55 percent of the time. The Tide have scored points 89.47 percent of the time on 57 total attempts. The Irish, meanwhile, actually have one more trip to the red zone with 58, but they aren’t putting the ball in the end zone nearly as much as Alabama.
3. 62.96% vs. 63.64%
Both defenses are so stout in the red zone, with Bama’s having a slight edge with opponents scoring only 62.96 percent of the time compared to the Irish’s 63.94 percent. Notre Dame, though, has only allowed eight total touchdowns in the red zone – the best in college football. Bama has allowed 14 touchdowns.
4. 4.09 vs. 4.55
Alabama has allowed only 4.09 yards per play, good for second in the nation behind FSU. Notre Dame, however, is right behind them allowing just 4.55 yards per play. Explosive plays will be very tough to come by tonight, as both defenses clamp down on the running game with physical, attacking front seven players.
5. 105 vs. 136
One really eye-popping stat is Alabama has only allowed 105 total plays on the season that exceeded 10 yards or more. That’s the best in the country, and it speaks to a competent defensive scheme and sound tackling. Notre Dame, though, has allowed 136 plays of 10 yards or more. However, the Irish do lead the country allowing the least amount of plays of 20-plus yards with 29 total, compared to Alabama’s 37.
6. 27 vs. 35
Bama only allowed 27 rushing plays of 10-plus yards on the season. Notre Dame has allowed 35 and is tied for sixth in the country. Stopping the run is something both teams excel at, and it will be primo tonight on college football’s biggest stage.
7. +13 vs. +9
Both the Tide and Irish have done a fantastic job protecting the ball and forcing turnovers on defense. Alabama holds a slight lead at +13 in turnover margin against Notre Dame’s +9. However, Alabama was -6 in turnover margin against LSU, Texas A&M and Georgia, the three toughest and closest games all year. If Notre Dame wins the turnover battle, it bodes well for an epic upset.
8. 50 vs. 68
Alabama is the least penalized team in the SEC this season and the 7th least penalized team in the country with just 50 total penalties. The Irish are 31st in the country with 68 total penalties. Nick Saban preaches discipline, and his team has been very good in 2012.
9. 33 vs. 33
One common theme for both defenses, besides being strong against the run, is that they both lack a really dominant pass rusher. The Tide and Irish have each made 33 sacks on the season. It’s a collective scheme for both teams rushing the quarterback. Notre Dame’s Stephon Tuitt leads all defenders in the game with 12 sacks, while Bama’s Adrian Hubbard is second with 10 sacks.
10. 16 vs. 23
Interestingly enough, it’s Notre Dame’s offensive line that has protected the quarterback better, not Alabama’s. The Tide’s offensive line gets all the pub for being behemoths and road graders, and rightfully so, but they are 54th in the country while the Irish are 24th in the country, only allowing 16 total sacks on the season. Those numbers, of course, favor a team with a mobile quarterback in Everett Golson over a pocket passer in AJ McCarron.
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