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And in that corner… The Pittsburgh Panthers

Nov 6, 2013, 10:58 AM EST

Quayshawn Nealy, Devin Street AP

One year after an underwhelming Pitt team came into Notre Dame Stadium and nearly ended the Irish’s dream season early, Paul Chryst‘s squad once again has the Irish in their sights. An up and down season could be kickstarted by a victory over Notre Dame.

It’s been a mixed back for the Panthers this season. They’ve shown spurts of having the offensive firepower to hang in the ACC, but haven’t been able to play the type of consistent football needed to take the program back to a winning level. Part of that is the product of massive instability at the top of the food chain, with Chryst replacing current Arizona State coach Todd Graham after a year, who replaced Mike Haywood before ever coaching a game, who was hired after the Dave Wannstedt era was ended.

Getting us up to speed on all things Pitt is Anson Whaley of Cardiac Hill. He’s been writing about all things Pitt Panthers, and was kind enough to answer my questions as a battered Irish squad gets ready to head east to play another primetime football game this Saturday.

I asked, he answered. Enjoy.

***

Sitting at 4-4 after eight games, things from 30,000 feet feel like a mixed bag. The rushing offense is anemic, curious for a Paul Chryst offense. The defense is a respectable 34th in total defense, two slots ahead of Notre Dame, but has looked shaky against decent competition. Just how frustrating is this team for Panthers fans?

It’s been even more frustrating than normal to be honest. The team hasn’t shown any type of consistency all year and after some strong offensive games early this season, that unit has really taken a nosedive. The defense, as you stated, has been reasonable overall, but has had its share of struggles, too. That side of the ball gave up 55 points to Duke and a total of 75 to the likes of Old Dominion, New Mexico, and Navy. There have been far too many lapses, particularly in pass coverage.

What fans are starting to realize is that this just isn’t a very good team. They’ve proven they can beat bottom feeders, but don’t have a single quality win (no, beating a 6-2 Duke team doesn’t count) and while they’ve been competitive against some good teams, they also haven’t been able to put it all together.

It feels like Devin Street has been at Pitt forever. Tom Savage might be the truest journeyman quarterback in college football. Sprinkle in the impressive freshman campaign of Tyler Boyd, and will Pitt challenge the Irish secondary through the air?

Not if recent history holds true. Pitt’s aerial attack looked pretty good earlier in the season and Savage even tied a Pitt record with six touchdown passes against Duke. But the passing game has really struggled against better defenses. It’s not so much the fault of the skill players, who have been serviceable when Savage has had enough time to throw. The problem has been a very weak offensive line that has allowed Savage to be harassed for much of the season. Under pressure, it’s been hard for him to get anything going.

Tyler Boyd, who started the season strong disappeared off the radar screen until last week against Georgia Tech when he had 11 catches for 118 yards and a touchdown. The hope is that the team will start to look for him a bit more, but if the Irish defensive line pressures Savage, it’s hard to imagine the passing game having any kind of rhythm.

After saying goodbye to Rushel Shell, how has the Pitt run game done without him? Notre Dame could be heading into this game missing over half of its two-deep along the defensive line. Will Pitt do their best to pound the football?

The running game has, overall, been a bit of a mess. The same thing I mentioned earlier holds true here as well – they’ve played well against bad teams, but poorly against good ones. Unsurprisingly, Isaac Bennett and James Conner have had their best games against Old Dominion, New Mexico, and Duke. But they’ve struggled mightily against Florida State (69 combined yards), Virginia (32 combined yards), and Virginia Tech (32 combined yards). Things hit rock bottom last weekend against Georgia Tech as the pair had a whopping 19 yards. Pitt really misses Shell as Bennett and Conner have had trouble against better competition. It’s not all on them as the offensive line has been pretty bad, but they just haven’t gotten much going.

Paul Chryst is a run-first type of guy and I’d expect he’ll start by trying to establish the run to see what the pair can do. Savage will get his fair share of attempts, but Chryst will surely try to run the ball.

On the defensive side of the ball, the strength of the Panthers looks to be up front with Aaron Donald and company. Just how good is Donald? And will this group make things difficult for an Irish offensive line that could be short two starters?

Donald is an absolute freak and is looking like a potential first- or second-round talent. He’s doing things on the interior of the line that even defensive ends don’t do. You name it he does it – sacks, forced fumbles, double-digit tackle games … he’s just too much for 95% of the offensive linemen out there and even drawing double teams still finds a way to make an impact.

Unfortunately the rest of the line has been only mediocre, although defensive end Bryan Murphy has had some good games lately. Even so, though, Donald is capable of causing havoc on his own.

Assess the Paul Chryst era so far?

Still an incomplete grade for me. Many fans are displeased with the lack of progress so far since Pitt won only six games last year and is having a similar year this season. But the offensive line cupboard was so bare that it was hard to expect too much right away. On the recruiting end, he has managed to rebuild the line, bringing in five offensive linemen last year and has several more commitments for 2014. Chryst has unimpressed with his game coaching so far, but as I’ve said on my blog, this whole head coaching thing is new to him. Growing pains are to be expected and to grade him when he hasn’t even completed two seasons is wholly unfair.

A badly banged up Notre Dame team opened up 3.5 point favorites but that’s stretched to 5 points. How do you see this game shaking out? Pitt’s best win of the year looks like a 58-55 shootout. They’ve lost two straight to option teams Navy and Georgia Tech.

I expect Pitt to be right there. The Panthers always seem to get up for Notre Dame and are 2-3 over the past five games against the Irish. Even though they’ve dropped the past three, it’s only been by a total of 12 points and two of those games have been on the road. At home and coming off of the disappointment from last year, I expect it to be a close game. Five points against a very average team would seem to be on the low end, but with Pitt’s history against Notre Dame, I have a hard time seeing it be a blowout. I’m not sure if I’m ready to call a Pitt victory here, but a three-five win either way is how I think this will end up.

What’s the recipe for a Pitt victory?

If Pitt is going to win, the key will be getting Tom Savage time to throw. When he has that, he’s proven to be dangerous and with Street and Boyd, he has two of the better receivers in the ACC at his disposal. The Panthers need a solid defensive effort, obviously, but they’ve had that a few other times this season and still come up short. If Pitt is going to win, they’ll need to score more points than they have been lately – and for that to happen, the offensive line simply has to give Savage time to throw.

***

For more from Anson, be sure to check him out everywhere he writes. You can also follow him on Twitter @AnsonWhaley or @PittPantherBlog.  

  1. andy44teg - Nov 6, 2013 at 12:10 PM

    I hate playing teams that are labelled “inconsistent”. Everything seems to come together for ‘em when they play ND, and then look horrible again for the rest of the year. Kills us in the polls.

    • jimbasil - Nov 6, 2013 at 12:59 PM

      I expect the (depleted) ND defense to make Savage look the Heisman candidate he is. The Irish seem to find away to make okay QB’s look like major contenders for award night USA.

  2. irishdodger - Nov 6, 2013 at 12:16 PM

    Even the most Pollyannish Irish fan should agree that Pitt will play their most complete game of the season against ND. This game will go down to the wire per usual & the excuses will be the multiple injuries to ND’s defense. Sorry, that doesn’t hold water (even when it’s 10-12 players) as EVERY D1 team has suffered significant injuries 3/4 into the season. If you’re tired like I am of listening to the media make excuses for the lackluster SEC regarding injuries, then be consistent and don’t let injuries be ND’s excuse. ND should win comfortably…but they won’t.

  3. notredameirish1980 - Nov 6, 2013 at 12:18 PM

    Will ND be able to generate enough pass rush with a decimated front seven? Inquiring minds need to know!

    • papadec - Nov 6, 2013 at 6:48 PM

      Yes – I think they will.

  4. irishwilliamsport - Nov 6, 2013 at 1:14 PM

    This is not a very good team and they played Navy and GT and got cut blocked to death the past two weeks like we did so I’m sure they’re banged up.

    Establish the run early and put it out of reach early and get the young guys in the game.

    42 – 20 ND

    • bernhtp - Nov 6, 2013 at 1:35 PM

      Establishing a run will also keep our battered defense off of the field. This is almost as important as scoring points.

    • jimbasil - Nov 6, 2013 at 1:36 PM

      Oh, I think ND will score more than 20.

      • ndirish10 - Nov 6, 2013 at 2:12 PM

        But the question is how many will Pitt score?

      • jimbasil - Nov 6, 2013 at 2:43 PM

        Having watched Pitt this year it looks as though they’re disorganized on O. The Defense isn’t too terrible – however the secondary appears to make many more mistakes than ND’s. As far as them scoring. I really don’t see them all that capable however, ND certainly has let opponents off the hook when it comes to game plan. I think Kelly will choose the least path for Pitts resistance for scoring and with the injuries, I don’t hold out for ND to stop Pitt from scoring the way they should. Kelly & Co. are the key to success on D not the talent of the ND players.

      • jimbasil - Nov 6, 2013 at 2:53 PM

        17

      • ndirish10 - Nov 6, 2013 at 6:04 PM

        Well as long as we score 18 or more I’m fine with that. GO IRISH!!!

      • jimbasil - Nov 6, 2013 at 6:15 PM

        If a one point win – Then, I don’t want to see any posts by you questioning why ND didn’t make a BCS game should they win out.

        Though I do believe ND is a better team than they’ve been given credit for; but style points (needlessly lopsided victories) are what count these days to be evaluated and ranked in the upper echelon. ND will play in a lesser bowl game regardless of their victory – I think that was decided in their “skin of the teeth” win over USC and underlined by the Navy win.

      • ndirish10 - Nov 6, 2013 at 6:09 PM

        And for those who really dislike it when someone uses “we”…as long as the IRISH score 18 or more I’m fine with that. I stopped looking for the blowout win a few years ago.

      • jimbasil - Nov 6, 2013 at 6:18 PM

        So sad.

        I look for ND teams that play well where they play to their potential which includes the coaches. I don’t think Kelly is a good game planner or at least doesn’t game plan to his potential. It’s actually a bit frustrating as a fan of the game.

  5. irishdodger - Nov 6, 2013 at 1:16 PM

    What I watched of the Pitt/Navy game showed that they did a pretty nice job of defending the triple option. It was their offense that let them down.

  6. charlie617 - Nov 6, 2013 at 3:25 PM

    One understated thing about this year is how important Stephon Tuitt’s presence has been for the D. Even setting aside his actual production (slow start to the season vs. game for the ages against USC), his ability to stay healthy and stay on the field has been crucial. With all the attrition this year, having a starter on the D line play in every single game has been huge.

  7. nudeman - Nov 6, 2013 at 4:41 PM

    You know what’s disgusting?

    I just looked at SI.com and they project ND will play a bowl game against Northern Illinois.
    Don’t ask me what bowl, because it doesn’t matter, does it?
    Another prediction somewhere else has ND playing Ball State.
    Another one has them playing North Texas.

    Good Lord. I am old enough to remember when ND reversed its decades old policy of NOT playing bowl games and went down to Dallas to play Texas after the ’69 season.
    It seemed like forever after that, ND’s policy was “we will go to a Bowl if we can play a higher ranked team and improve our standing”.

    Northern Illinois? Ball State? North Texas? I just want to puke.
    Frankly, I’d rather they don’t play a bowl game if that’s what we’re talking about.

    • irishaggie - Nov 6, 2013 at 4:55 PM

      That reminds me of when we played Hawaii in 2008. What a joke!

      Add to the fact that bowl games influence preseason rankings. It won’t impress anyone going into the preseason if we beat Ball State or NT.

      • nudeman - Nov 6, 2013 at 5:39 PM

        Well how many times have we heard people here, other writers and Kelly himself explain a close win against a poor team by saying “It’s their Super Bowl”?
        (Personally, I think that’s a load of crap. Really good teams hammer inferior opponents.
        They don’t win 23-22 thsn say “well, they were REALLY up for the game”.)

        So imagine if we LOSE to NIU or Ball State?
        Is there any doubt either of those teams will be sky high against ND?

        There is NOTHING to be gained from a win over clown teams like these.
        They should just pass.

      • jimbasil - Nov 6, 2013 at 5:48 PM

        True nude. My question is in reply when coaches (Kelly) says they were really up for the game – why weren’t you up for the game?

      • irishaggie - Nov 6, 2013 at 6:08 PM

        When Kelly says that “it’s their Super Bowl” he sounds so much like Charlies Weis. Just beat the crap out of the teams and move on. No need to fuel their fire. Plus we let teams hang around until the fourth quarter and give them the belief that they can win. We start slow, shoot ourselves in the foot, turn the ball over and next thing were scrambling to stop Navy to save our season. Last year close games were understandable because the team had never had that success and had to get use to winning and expecting to win. This year they just look lazy, unmotivated, and slow ( on defense especially).

      • domerboyirish - Nov 7, 2013 at 9:00 AM

        Nude, you are so right with that comment. I am sick of hearing that we are the other teams Super Bowl. Other teams want to beat ND because we are a tradition rich university BUT now they circle the calendar because they also think it is a game they might be able to win! Recent historical loses to crap teams like Tulsa and Syracuse, coupled with close ND victories over inferior teams like last week, give these teams hope.

        We need to we start knocking the crap out of teams like these again. No one circles a game on the calendar if they think ahead of time that they are going to get their teeth kicked in. Right now, teams believe they have a chance. I’d love to get back to having our opponents fear getting blown out. That will only happen if we stop having close games with inferior opponents. Win by 45, play some freshman to get them experience, rest the starters in the second half and start building a dynasty. That won’t happen with triple overtime wins over Pitt.

        I saw the projection on North Texas and I vomited in my mouth. I too thought we would have to turn down the invite. Even loyal ND fans might not travel for that one.

    • simmel65 - Nov 6, 2013 at 7:02 PM

      I think Diaco is to passive versus inferior teams. They should blitz more, stunt the linemen, fake blitz, etc… I just don’t us imposing our will on defense. We are so reactionary. We drop back really far and allow 7-8 yard passes. I know this strategy worked last year because we had an amazing presence around the end zone and didn’t allow many touchdowns. But that isn’t happening. We are letting inferior teams dink and dunk up the field and these teams gain confidence…

      ND defense should be shooting for 3 and outs every possession and be pissed when it takes them a 2nd set of downs to get off the field. That is the type of mentality they need to develop.

      • nudeman - Nov 6, 2013 at 8:27 PM

        If they blitz they damn well better get to the QB or some WR is going to blow the doors off Farley or Collinsworth; or a RB is gonna’ catch a hot route with Fox or Carlo trailing him by 5 yards and go for the easiest 64 yard TD of his life.

      • savejimmyjohnsonsassforme - Nov 7, 2013 at 2:36 PM

        Very well said!…You want respect and some juice in the polls, go out and drill inferior competition, take their will early & continue to pile on.

    • papadec - Nov 6, 2013 at 7:03 PM

      nude – things have changed drastically. Now, the coaches will take pretty much any bowl game to get the 15 extra practices. If EG is back on campus & the team, it will give him a chance to practice with this team, before Spring practice. I’m not sure whether he would be allowed to play in a Bowl game though. I have mixed feelings on whether, or not, to go to an el crappo bowl. If the team goes 10-2 or 9-3, or heaven forbid 8-4, I think they deserve to go to a bowl game & the extra practices would help for next season.

      • don74 - Nov 6, 2013 at 7:52 PM

        didn’t se this when I commented. Call me Captain Redundant.

    • don74 - Nov 6, 2013 at 7:50 PM

      Nude,

      The world changed since the time ND first played Texas in the Cotton Bowl. Heck, I remember when I could tell my ex wife I would be home late cause I was stuck somewhere and would be out of phone contact………….

      The reason to go to a lesser bowl game has less to do with prestige or winning as it has to do with extra practices. They get an extra 20 practices (maybe more). They usually rep the first team and graduating seniors for 7-10 and rep the other guys. It’s important to go to a bowl if the 2014 season is going to be what all of us want it to be. Remember EG will rep in bowl practice…..VERY important.

      Big picture Mr Nude, big picture.

      • nudeman - Nov 6, 2013 at 8:33 PM

        Don,
        First, I still use the “out of radio contact” excuse.

        Second, yeah, I get that, and yes the benefot prob outweighs the negatives.
        But really, if Bama had a down year, could you see them playing Ball State?

        I suppose maybe they would for the practices, but still … ND playing in one of those bowls against one of those teams would be like Sinatra backing up Ethel Merman at a County Fair.

        Maybe I’m just old.

      • don74 - Nov 6, 2013 at 9:04 PM

        Nude,

        the world has changed. May be better, may be worse. I still don’t have a tattoo……………

        I listen to every Kelly presser and radio show. He really is pretty good about explaining what he is about and what he expects…somewhere on this thread someone questioned “other teams getting up for ND and ND doesn’t seem to get up for them”. At the Tuesday presser one of the scribes asked that very question. Kelly was caught somewhat off guard and started to answer. He rambled for a bit and stopped and finally said everyone in the ND locker room was excited to play Navy and at the end of the game there were grown men (going to do something more important than football next year or so) that were crying at the end of the game. That’s what it means to play ND.

        He gets it and holds his guys to high expectations. They know what he wants and he knows what they can deliver. After the Michigan game he blasted the Offense and everyone said he was crazy the D lost the game. He knew Michigan’s D sucked and regardless of what the D did the O should score more than they gave up.

        For Pitt he is saying both sides need each other. He didn’t say it would be close but he did say it requires execution on both ends. Kelly speak for “we should win no problem but if the D doesn’t hold the O should carry the day”.

        My guess, ND 42, Pitt 20. Expect Tommy to have a good day as long as they keep the one stud Dlineman off him. Double team or even let a TE chip and they have a field day passing. Expect surprise pressure on D to hurry their QB.

        Not as close as we have grown to expect. BYU is the tester this year.

      • bearcatirishfan - Nov 7, 2013 at 12:42 AM

        I still remember having to use 1-800-COLLECT to call home when I got stuck somewhere. Always good excuse to say I couldn’t find a pay phone.

        This is the only ( and I want it to stay that way) downside of the independent status. All the major conferences have bowl rights so contractually we can’t go to any of the July 1st bowls cause they have to take the 3rd best team from the big 10 or whatever.

        Although if we finish 9-3 the seniors on the team deserve to play a bowl game even if it is less tan ideal. Hell I’d take a free trip to Hawaii. Sheridan hotels ain’t so has neither.

        Final thought, not sure i want to see them play NIU, they have QB that can run and throw.

      • 4horsemenrideagain - Nov 7, 2013 at 9:35 AM

        i can’t remember the last bowl game that was fun to watch; either ND was embarrassed or they played an opponent that as a fan was an embarrassing to play. take a look for yourself:

        January 1, 2001 Fiesta Bowl L #5 Oregon State 9 41
        January 1, 2003 Gator Bowl L #17 North Carolina State 6 28
        December 28, 2004 Insight Bowl L Oregon State 21 38
        January 2, 2006 Fiesta Bowl L #4 Ohio State 20 34
        January 3, 2007 Sugar Bowl L #4 LSU 14 41
        December 24, 2008 Hawaiʻi Bowl W Hawaiʻi 49 21
        December 31, 2010 Sun Bowl W Miami (FL) 33 17
        December 29, 2011 Champs Sports Bowl L #25 Florida State 14 18
        January 7, 2013 BCS National Championship L #2 Alabama 14 42

        The only games that even arguably were not huge disappointments were Oregon State, Ohio State (both of which were not as close as the score indicated) and Miami (that was still way down as a program in ’10 and was just starting to come back).

        as a matter of principle, i’d rather not see ND play in the crappy mccrapperson bowl game, yet for the reasons everyone else mentions (extended season, recruiting, some nominal degree of exposure) turning down such a bowl is all but impossible.

    • ndnphx - Nov 6, 2013 at 9:08 PM

      Amen, Nude. And I was in the stadium for that Cotton Bowl in ’69. We end up playing someone like NIU in a bowl and I will put a grocery bag over my head.

      On the other hand, I get the conference bowl tie-ins and all that. But most bowls could/should take a 9-3 ND team, because they know their stadium will be packed and their TV ratings will spike. We may get in over our heads, but…

      • nudeman - Nov 6, 2013 at 9:27 PM

        God, I remember that game so well.
        Theismann had a terrific game but Darrell Royal and his wishbone prevailed. I think it was 21-17 with Texas completing a rare pass for a winning TD late. The WR’s nsme was Cotton Speyrer or something like that.

  8. irishaggie - Nov 6, 2013 at 4:43 PM

    The Irish have not lost a game in which they are favored since USC in 2011 ( that is according to Vegas i know a lot of ND fans feel we’re favored in every game but Vegas would say nope). They also hardly ever cover the spread like many of you have mentioned. I would be shocked if they actually win comfortably because ND-Pitt is always close including some crazy overtimes (2008,2012).

    I just hope we’re not down by 4 with 1 minute left in the game as the clock is ticking and we’re facing a 4th and 3 cuz I will be losing my mind at that point.

    • papadec - Nov 6, 2013 at 7:08 PM

      awwwwww that’s alright haggie – you can have mine (mind) – I forgot where I left it, anyway.

  9. steincj36 - Nov 6, 2013 at 5:20 PM

    Read this reporters comments. Pitt sucks. Can’t run. No time in the pocket. One decent guy on D.

    Oh, it will be a close game, maybe even a Pitt win.

    Excuse me?????,

    • jimbasil - Nov 6, 2013 at 5:44 PM

      Very similar to the voices who claimed Navy game would be a blowout this year. And I also remember those sentiments when ND played Tulsa, Navy (Meadowlands), Temple, Pitt – BYU – Wake Forest – BC – PU last year, Maryland and BC the year before and so on.

      You really need to start paying attention to who the Irish Football team really is – their character on the field. You might find a surprising pattern developed over the years. Rarely do they beat an opponent soundly with little difficulty.

      Excuse you!!!!!

    • nudeman - Nov 6, 2013 at 5:50 PM

      How many games has ND truly dominated this year? Air Force and who else?
      They even looked out of it most of the game against Temple and the entire 1st half against Purdue.
      As we all know, they consistently play down to their opponent’s level.

      So taking that into account and also the fact that Pitt ALWAYS plays ND tough, it’s hard to imagine this won’t be a close one. And yes, a possible upset, which I predicted that at the beginning of the year.

      Not sure I still believe that, but I’d be shocked if ND blows them out.
      Look for a close game with ND winning something like 34-28

      • jimbasil - Nov 6, 2013 at 6:21 PM

        Well said.

      • papadec - Nov 6, 2013 at 7:11 PM

        I’ll gladly take a 34-28 ND win over Pitt @ Pitt this year – any year for that matter.

      • viktory2013 - Nov 6, 2013 at 10:11 PM

        Part of the problem are the team captains/leaders. T.J. Jones, Tommy Rees, Bennet Jackson are all soft spoken, uninspiring guys, and the team plays as such.
        Anybody remember Manti Teo screaming on the sideline of last year’s SC game? When Kirk Herbstreit said it was giving him chills in the broadcast booth just watching it? Or Brady Quinn after his winning pass against UCLA? Or Joe Theismann ANYTIME?? It’s one of the reasons we have all these crappy, desperate wins. The opponents are hitting with every ounce while we’ve got lame assed seniors going through the motions. At least Folston, Jaylon Smith, Corey Robinson and some of those kids are earning it.

        Northern Illinois, Central Florida, Fresno St. should not be playing in major bowls or even ranked. No one outside the school is interested in seeing them play; they’re division II schools for all intents and purposes.

      • 4horsemenrideagain - Nov 7, 2013 at 9:39 AM

        maybe NIU can’t hang with the big boys, though i expect they’ll get their chance to show whether they can this year. good enough or not, jordan lynch is a great football player and fun to watch. in fact, if i remember correctly he had more passing and more rushing yards than johnny autograph did last year. i’ll go along with someone who said it above, i don’t want to play against him in a bowl game.

  10. fitz79 - Nov 6, 2013 at 5:52 PM

    I wanna see a one-two punch of McDaniel and Folston this weekend, and a few for GAIII out on the perimeter. A strong running game setting up some easy throws for Tommy to Troy, TJ Jones and Daniels. This is an offense that is finally finding it’s identity!
    With Nix and Shumate back on defense and no funky option to defend, I think the D will back to their old selves again. Go Irish!

    • jimbasil - Nov 6, 2013 at 6:27 PM

      well, I’m hoping Kelly decides to have a run game this week (and not pull a Weis – Too clever for everyone game planning). I have never liked his (Kelly) use of a run game – used as an end game win by one point type or just used as a tool to give the WR’s a break in the middle of the game.

      It’s odd how he finally uses a run game and suddenly it’s this magic pill he has discovered. He’s got a very talented OLine and he uses if for empty backfield plays on 3 and 1. But at the Presser it’s “we couldn’t find the right spot to use the run game.

      Yes, I hope the Defense gets healthy in a hurry.

  11. richisirish - Nov 6, 2013 at 6:18 PM

    I’m sticking with ND by 17, 31-14. Good thing I’m not a betting man! And what ever bowl ND is in Ill take pleasure knowing the returning players are getting practice time in (EG!!!) for next year. If ND blows it against Pitt at least no one will be watching due to ALA-LSU. Enjoy the game!

  12. vicpaul - Nov 6, 2013 at 6:58 PM

    I don’t want to play the likes of NT or Ball state either but to skip it means we give up 15 extra practices. That extra time is huge for the development of this football team….especially if EG can get in some reps. Play the game, thump them out, have a great off season. (something this team definitely needs after last seasons gong show)

  13. newmexicoirish - Nov 6, 2013 at 8:45 PM

    Fitz79, I think you have nailed ND’s game plan. Personally I think we’re going to blow Pitt off of their own field. The guys at Blue & Gold Illustrated have the Irish winning pretty comfortably with Lou Somogyi predicting the closest margin of victory at 27 to 13.

  14. getsome99 - Nov 6, 2013 at 11:44 PM

    Being the other team’s Super Bowl is just one obstacle that we’ve had to overcome this year. We lost our starting QB just before summer. Had an unsettled backfield for the first 8 games of the season and lost about 50 players to injuries.

    I know these sound like excuses, but we are talking about games that we actually won, aren’t we? For as much as this team has gone through this year, I’m happy we’re winning these games now unlike the Weis era.

  15. danirish - Nov 7, 2013 at 1:41 PM

    Don’t care what the score is!

    JUST WIN!

    GO IRISH!

    It would be nice to see Folston have another good game.

  16. runners00 - Nov 8, 2013 at 2:00 PM

    It does not look like Pitt has played to its ability this season.

    Their offensive line is big — 4 guys at 6 foot 6 and around 300 pounds and a center who is 6-2 and 300 pounds. While they’re mostly 3 star recruits, you would still think a team like that could run the football — or throw it. Savage is a big dude, too, but he’s struggled — throwing 2 INTs against FSU, Virginia and New Mexico. He’s calmed down of late but they’re 104th in rushing and 70th in passing, despite playing a fairly mediocre schedule. They lost to Georgia Tech and Navy and struggled with Old Dominion.

    On defense, it’s Donald. Everyone else looks manageable, which is why Pittsburgh has struggled. Even banged up, Tuitt and Nix are going to give Pitt fits if their line plays as it has for most of the season. I can see many paths to victory here. We should be able to move the ball effectively on the ground, with Pitt giving up about 165 yards per game and our running game seeming to return. We should get through the air, too, as our running game will open up some of the secondary. And I think that on defense, we will get to Savage too often for him to be effective.

    We’ll win. I don’t know enough to predict the final score, but I think we will win comfortably.

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