Notre Dame Football 2012 Bowl Capsule

Notre Dame Fighting Irish


Notre Dame certainly had some close calls this season. They won five games by a touchdown or less. And those close games were not always against the top competition. They beat Oklahoma 30-13 and USC 22-13. But the Irish struggled to pull away from teams like Purdue and Pittsburgh, who took them to triple overtime. Yet, none of that matters now. The important thing is the 12-0 record and what the Irish can do in BCS National Championship game.

2012 Record: 12-0
Coach: Brian Kelly
Coach Bowl Record: 3-2

Big Wins: 10/13 Stanford (20-13), 11/24 USC (22-13)
Bad Losses: None

The close games are a bit misleading. Surely Notre Dame could have done better against the Panthers, but this is a team that wins with defense. A low scoring battle is exactly where the Irish want to be and Manti Te’o can lead the team to victory. The linebacker has had a Heisman worthy 2012 campaign, leading the team with 103 tackles and seven interceptions. Te’o is an absolute beast in the middle of the field. Obviously he can do it all. But the Irish defense is more than Te’o, although it can be easy to forget that. Cornerback Bennett Jackson is a speedster who has developed into a great football player. Along with Zeke Motta, Matthias Farley and KeiVarae Russell, the secondary is full of superb talent. The secondary has an easier time due to the consistent pressure put on the opposing quarterback. Defensive end Stephon Tuitt is the best pass rusher on the team, tallying 12.0 sacks on the season, but Kapron Lewis-Moore is dangerous on the other end and Prince Shembo spends a lot of time in the backfield from his outside linebacker position.

The offense is not going to win many games on their own. Everett Golson is not the most dangerous quarterback. He has only completed 58.9 percent of his pass attempts and thrown for 2,135 yards. When the Irish need points in a hurry, they can be hard to come by. Tyler Eifert is, arguably, the best tight end in the nation. But he is also the Irish’s most prolific receiver, catching 44 passes for 624 yards and four touchdowns. Notre Dame will need to stretch the field at some point and that has not been easy in 2012. In the meantime, Coach Brian Kelly can call on his ground game. Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood form a potent one-two combination in the backfield. Riddick has been more of the workhorse this season after moving from wide receiver, but Wood is a bigger, tougher back who, along with George Atkinson, can pick up the tough yardage.

Statistical Leaders:
Rushing: Theo Riddick, RB, 880 yards
Passing: Everett Golson, QB, 2,135 yards
Receiving: Tyler Eifert, TE, 624 yards
Tackles: Manti Te’o, LB, 103
Sacks: Stephon Tuitt, DE, 12.0
Interceptions: Manti Te’o, LB, 7

2012 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 202.50 (27th in nation, 3rd among Independents)
Passing Offense: 218.83 (77, 2)
Total Offense: 421.33 (48, 2)
Scoring Offense: 26.75 (75, 2)
Rushing Defense: 92.42 (5, 2)
Pass Defense: 194.83 (22, 2)
Total Defense: 287.25 (6, 2)
Scoring Defense: 10.33 (2, 1)
Turnover Margin: 0.75 (19, 1)
Sacks: 2.75 (19, 1)
Sacks Allowed: 1.33 (28, 2)

Recent Bowl Appearances:
2011    Champs Sports Bowl    Florida State (14-18)
2010    Sun Bowl        Miami (33-17)
2008    Hawaii Bowl        Hawaii (49-21)
2006    Sugar Bowl        LSU (14-41)
2005    Fiesta Bowl        Ohio State (20-34)

*all team stats through 11/24


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