Predictions: Notre Dame vs. Pittsburgh
Observer Sports Staff | Friday, November 6, 2015
Greg Hadley, Editor-in-Chief
For some reason or another, Pittsburgh is Brian Kelly’s Achilles heel. Notre Dame just can’t seem to win an easy one against the Panthers, no matter how greatly the Irish are favored.
There’s no reason to expect to this Saturday will be any different. Coming off a surprising No. 5 slot in the initial College Football Playoff rankings, the Irish could be forgiven for being a little overconfident. But they will still have to put away a team that just seem to have their number.
Oh, and don’t forget Tyler Boyd. The Panther receiver is one of the best in the nation, and the Irish secondary, which has had its issues stopping the big play, will be without senior safety Elijah Shumate for the first half.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 24, Pittsburgh 20
Mary Green, Assistant Managing Editor
Three of the last four teams Notre Dame has faced were undefeated headed into the matchup, and the other was rival USC. The Irish went 3-1 during that stretch, a positive sign of the team’s strength the rest of the season.
However, Pittsburgh has only lost to two teams, and those two have a combined record of 15-1, so the Panthers are better than their record may imply.
This might not be a top-25 matchup, but it will still be a hard-fought game for Notre Dame. But as DeShone Kizer put it last week, keeping it close until the fourth quarter and squeezing out a late victory has become the identity of the 2015 Irish team. Expect nothing different this week.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 27, Pittsburgh 20
Zach Klonsinski, Sports Editor
Pittsburgh’s offensive numbers — 169.4 yards per game on the ground and 195.5 through the air to go with to 26.1 points per game — may not look like much, but the team gets contributions from everywhere.
What’s more, every game the Irish and Panthers play seems to come down to the final series. Everyone says this will be a close game — including my fellow beat writers.
So, naturally, I’ll go the opposite route.
Looking at the Panthers’ schedule, there isn’t a team that compares to Notre Dame, full of athletes from top to bottom. Not even No. 9 Iowa, who slipped by the Panthers on a last-second field goal. Sometime soon, the Irish will put together a complete game like they did against Texas.
The only question is when. I think it’s this week.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 38, Pittsburgh 10
Alex Carson, Associate Sports Editor
In nine of the last 10 meetings between Pittsburgh and Notre Dame, the winner has been decided by single digits — expect nothing different Saturday in the Steel City.
The Panthers’ style is a little suffocating; they limit possessions and keep the game short, and they’ve been good in closing out the close games this year.
The Irish defense will have to keep tabs on Tyler Boyd, who’s a big-play threat, and could need a couple deep connections between DeShone Kizer and Will Fuller to open up the ground game for C.J. Prosise, who’ll need to bounce back for Notre Dame to secure a victory.
It looks as if this game should come down to who can make a play late to win it — and Kizer’s proven he’s capable of delivering on the road in the final minutes.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 28, Pittsburgh 24
Brian Plamondon, Sports Writer
Save for the Texas game, Notre Dame hasn’t had one contest all season that the Irish faithful have felt confident for all 60 minutes. Don’t expect that to change this week.
Pat Narduzzi may be a defensive-minded head coach, but he has a pretty solid weapon on offense in receiver Tyler Boyd. Look for the Panthers to hold their own on both sides of the ball.
For the Irish, they struggled the last time they visited Pitt in 2013, falling 28-24 to a barely bowl-eligible Panther team.
And, of course, there was the three overtime victory as part of their 2012 National Championship Game run.
This one has the makings of another nail-biter — look for Joe Schmidt, who has been quiet all year, to step up and make a difference.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 27, Pittsburgh 24 (OT)