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Georgia Tech Football: Advanced Stats Preview - GT vs. ND

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The numbers show approximately zero places that GT has an advantage in this game

NCAA FOOTBALL: SEP 19 Georgia Tech at Notre Dame Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Georgia Tech heads to South Bend, IN riding a four game losing streak and staring at perhaps its two toughest tests of the season. The last time that Georgia Tech traveled to Notre Dame, it did so as a ranked team going into a highly anticipated matchup. Only a couple of garbage time scores made that game look respectable, as GT lost by 8 en route to the frustrating 3 win season of 2015.

This year, Georgia Tech Football is in an entirely different place. Competing for bowl eligibility, much less a national ranking, seems far afield. Without a historical upset in the final two weeks, Georgia Tech will win 3 games for the third year in a row, matching only the 1929-1931 stretch for successive futility in this storied program’s history.

Things are bleak, and here we will dig in to understand the matchup and see why it looks so unlikely for GT to get a win against the Irish.

When GT Has the Ball

GT Offense vs. ND

Metric GT Offense 2021 ND Defense 2021 Advantage National Average
Metric GT Offense 2021 ND Defense 2021 Advantage National Average
Success Rate 44% 38% ND 43%
YPP 5.3 5.1 ND 6.1
EPA/Play 0.09 -0.11 ND 0.06
EPA/pass 0.02 -0.19 ND 0.15
EPA/run 0.17 -0.01 GT -0.05
YPA 6.2 7 ND 7.4
3rd Down Success 35% 35% ND 43%
Red Zone Success 40% 45% ND 45%
Run Stuff Rate 19% 21% ND 19%
Havoc Rate 10% 18% GT 21%
Explosive Play Rate 13.20% 10.10% ND 12.20%
*GT numbers come from my play by play charting. Opponent numbers come from @CFB_Data and teamrankings.com. Explosive play data comes from David Hale.
*I’ve updated some of the national averages based on season data to date.

Looking back at last year’s Notre Dame-Georgia Tech match up gives us a very good idea of what we might expect on this side of the ball. Georgia Tech scored only 6 offensive points, had a 29% success rate on passing drop backs, managed an abysmal -0.60 EPA/pass, and surrendered havoc and pressure rates of 30% and 29% respectively.

This season, Notre Dame enters the contest with the 5th best pass defense (by EPA/pass) in the country, which will be the best GT has faced this year (of course, #1 waits next week). The previous best pass defense faced by GT belongs to Clemson, who held GT to a 36% passing SR, 4.7 yards per drop back, and -0.06 EPA/pass. There’s no statistical reason that suggests GT will have much of any success on offense on Saturday afternoon.

One reprieve for GT is that Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame’s all-everything safety, will miss his fourth consecutive game, but even without him, Marcus Freeman’s defensive unit has been magnificent. Isaiah Foskey leads the way up front with 8 sacks and 3 forced fumbles, but just as impressive is that ND has 6 other guys with 2 or more sacks (GT has 4 guys total with at least 2 sacks). In coverage, look out for Cam Hart (5 passes defended and 2 INTs), LB Bo Bauer (5 passes defended), and safety DJ Brown (3 INTs). Going against a relatively weak OL and backup QB last week, Notre Dame showed a blitz heavy attack that led to 7 sacks, 5 PBU’s, 2 INTs. I’d be shocked if we didn’t see more of the same.

When Notre Dame Has the Ball

GT Defense vs. ND Offense

Metric GT Defense 2021 ND Offense 2021 Advantage National Average
Metric GT Defense 2021 ND Offense 2021 Advantage National Average
Success Rate 47% 42% ND 43%
YPP 5.7 5.6 GT 6.1
EPA/Play 0.11 0.03 ND 0.06
EPA/pass 0.36 0.09 ND 0.15
EPA/rush -0.12 -0.01 GT -0.05
YPA 8.5 7.8 ND 7.4
3rd Down Success 49% 42% ND 43%
Red Zone Success 48% 43% ND 43%
Stuff Rate 18% 20% Even 19%
Havoc Rate 11% 17% ND 21%
Explosive Play Rate 10.30% 10.70% GT 12.20%

This Notre Dame offense isn’t spectacular, but it is solid across the board. Wisconsin transfer Jack Coan has found a rhythm in the second half of the season and started to post above average passing efficiency numbers. As Coach Patenaude mentioned this week, his favorite target is TE Michael Mayer (52-577-4 for the season), and it’s hard to see who on GT’s defense will have success covering him. On the outside, Kevin Austin and Avery Davis have combined for 61-955-10 and should find openings against the porous GT secondary.

The most acclaimed player on ND’s offense is RB Kyren Williams, who poses a significant threat in the passing game (36-308-3) to go with 174 carries at a 5.0 average and 10 TDs on the ground. ND is not very explosive through the air, but they should not have any trouble finding sustained success against a defense that has gotten demonstrably worse the last 5 weeks.

Prediction

The consensus Vegas line opened as Notre Dame -18 and has settled at Notre Dame -17, which translates to a 12% win probability for GT. Our model here at FTRS, The Binion Index has Notre Dame as a 21 point favorite. Looking at the more granular level, we identified 16 areas of advantage for Notre Dame to go with only 5 areas of advantage for GT, and those numbers have come against the 33rd ranked schedule for ND compared to GT’s 45th ranked schedule to date.

I see no evidence that points to GT staying in this game. Expect a slow bleed and garbage time to start late in the third or early in the fourth.

Vegas: Notre Dame by 17

My Pick: Notre Dame 35-7

The Binion Index: ND by 21 (ND to cover)

Year to Date Against the Spread: 318-263-8 (54.7%, Goal: >=55%)

Average Absolute Error: 13.5 points per game (Goal <= 12.5 points per game)