UM vs. ND: Notre Dame & Opponent PED
In 2007 and 2008, Notre Dame played 15 of such teams and went 2-13 (13%) against them: 1-8 and 1-5 in each respective year. Contrast this with an 8-2 (80%) record against teams in the bottom third of PED. Free advice, ND: you might consider scheduling less "Club Decent" teams in the future.
Almost no victories come against "Club Decent" teams.
The Irish had 10 wins combined the last 2 seasons. In 2007, 2/3 of those wins were against bad PED teams (#32, #101, and #84), and 6/7 were last year (#112, #79, #33, #83, #115, #103, and #87). This means opponents in Irish wins in the past 2 years average out to #83 in PED -- worse than 70% of all teams.
What do you call an exception that's not really an exception?
The only wins against decent pass defenses (#32, #33) in the past two years came against two below average teams: UCLA (6-7) in 2007 and Purdue (4-8) in 2008. Due to injury, UCLA had to play a third-string freshman walk-on qb, and were also without their starting RB. The turnover differential ended up +7 for the Irish. This sounds familiar for Michigan fans. The victory against a very poor, 4-8 Purdue team was in South Bend, where the Boilermakers rarely win (1-15 in their last 16 games). The turnover differential was +1 for the Irish, with the only turnover coming as a pick 6.
What did we learn from Nevada? We don't yet know where Nevada will stack up in PED for 2009, but we do know that last year they were #85, and an oft-cited #119/119 in pass defense, crushing #118 by 25 yards/game. I wouldn't expect that unit sans 1 free safety to be much better. Statistically, even the 3-9 2007 team would very likely have beaten Nevada.
Will Notre Dame break the trend this year and be able to beat "Club Decent" teams? I'm not sure how optimistic I would be as an Irish fan. While 2008 seemed to be an improvement over 2007, how much of that was the schedule? Their record was no better against the "Club"; they simply played fewer teams. 3 wins (2007) - 4 "Club Decent" opponents = 7 wins (2008). Yes, they have another year of experience, and Jon Tenuta is calling the shots on D now, but is that enough to significantly buck a trend that went seemingly unchanged from year 1 to year 2?
Is Michigan a "Club Decent" team this year?
Michigan was a poor PED team (#79) last year, suggesting that ND would beat them -- and they did. Is there reason to believe the Wolverines will change that this year, thus suggesting a different result? There are many positive signs. New DC Greg Robinson has brought a new, attacking defensive scheme, which is designed to put constant pressure on the QB. This was very effective against a large (very similar in size to ND), veteran line for WMU. Stevie Brown's move to SLB should also help, bringing his speed and athleticism up in pass coverage instead of a larger, slower LB attempting to guard receivers in space.