Golden has led Notre Dame to become one of the best defenses in college football this season. The Irish are tied for the lead among all FBS teams in defensive touchdowns this season (4), while ranking second in turnovers gained (20), second in passing yards allowed per game (153.6), third in team passing efficiency defense (95.77), third in interceptions (14), fifth in red zone defense (0.679) and seventh in total defense (280.4).
After playing the first two weeks against teams who were playing their first games of the season (Navy and Tennessee State), Notre Dame’s defense has held every opponent this season to fewer yards than their 2023 season averages entering the game. Furthermore, Notre Dame has held teams to an average of 109.5 fewer offensive yards per game, and 13.3 fewer points per game, than the opponent’s 2023 season average entering the game.
Golden has propelled Notre Dame’s defense to immense improvement and success in the red zone this season, jumping from 129th among FBS teams in 2022 (0.941) to ranking fifth among all FBS teams thus far in 2023 (0.679).
Notre Dame safety Xavier Watts leads all FBS players with seven interceptions this season, while Irish defensive lineman Howard Cross III leads all Power 5 defensive linemen in tackles this season (54, which ranks third among all FBS defensive linemen).
Linebacker and captain JD Bertrand leads the team in tackles with 63 on the season. Bertrand has been recognized nationally for his leadership and service in tandem with his standout ability on the field, having been named a finalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy, a semifinalist for the Wuerffel Trophy and one of just a few players in Notre Dame Football history to earn a captain role for multiple seasons.
Game spotlight: In Notre Dame’s 48-20 win over No. 10 USC, Notre Dame’s defense held the Trojans to just 308 total yards of offense (USC entered the game averaging 523.3 yards per game, ranked fourth in the country) and 20 points (USC entered the game leading the nation in scoring offense, averaging 51.8 points per game), while totaling six sacks and three interceptions, the most interceptions thrown in a single game by USC since 2021.
All statistics and rankings as of Nov. 10, 2023. Notre Dame does not play the weekend of Nov. 11.