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As the quarter progresses the Irish begin to find an offensive groove, mixing quick passes and misdirection runs that keep Alabama's defense off balance. Notre Dame faces two third-and-seven situations on the drive and convert both, one on a run by Cierre Wood and the other with a Golson scramble. This seems counterintuitive, but in 2012 FBS teams facing third-and-seven or more converted with running plays 21.8% of the time and succeeded only slightly more often when throwing (27.4%). Like many other teams were during the season, Alabama is caught off guard defensively when looking for a pass on third and long. Finally Golson finds tight end Tyler Eifert in the end zone to pull the Fighting Irish back into the game.
BY THE NUMBERS
59.0 Percentage of plays on which Notre Dame has run the ball in the third quarter of games in the 2012 season.
64.3 Percentage of plays on which Alabama has run in the third quarter.
6.5 Yards gained per play, passing and running, by Notre Dame in the third quarter, compared with an average of 6.2 overall.
6.1 Yards gained per play by Alabama in the third quarter, compared with an average of 7.0 overall.
0.4 Yards differential in average gain per carry in the third quarter between Notre Dame (6.4) and Alabama (6.0).
THE IRISH SUCCEED ON TWO THIRD-AND-SEVEN PLAYS ON THE GROUND. THIS SEEMS COUNTERINTUITIVE, BUT IN 2012, FBS TEAMS CONVERTED ON THIRD-AND-LONG NEARLY AS OFTEN BY RUNNING AS BY THROWING.