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The Observer predicts Notre Dame vs. Pitt

| Friday, October 27, 2023

Sofia CrimaVaroli
Senior safety Xavier Watts drives toward the endzone after a turnover play against USC, making use of his offensive background.

José Sánchez Córdova, Assistant Managing Editor

Pitt is not a very good football team. At 2-5, their win over the No. 14 Louisville team that beat Notre Dame is, frankly, befuddling. Coming off the bye week, Notre Dame should come out and dominate this contest. One thing to look out for is junior wide receiver Jayden Thomas getting involved again after spending a few weeks limited by a hamstring injury. Frankly, this game should be well in hand by halftime and anything less would be a disappointment for the Irish. This will be a blowout on Saturday. Notre Dame 45, Pitt 13.

Andrew McGuinness, Sports Editor

The way the Irish are talking paints an optimistic picture for both this week’s contest and the rest of the season. The daunting eight games in eight weeks are in the past, and the team seems to know its most grueling stretch is behind them. Notre Dame hits some big plays early and never lets Pitt get settled. The Panthers have given the Irish fits in the past, but that feeling just isn’t there this time. Notre Dame 49, Pitt 10.

J.J. Post, Associate Sports Editor

Beware the ghosts of Pat Narduzzi past. We all know about the … extensive views Pitt’s coach has on Notre Dame. And as you’d expect, every time Narduzzi has come to South Bend he’s made sure his teams play tough and put up a heck of a fight (people forget, the closest regular season game the 2018 Irish played was likely their five-point mid-October slugfest with the Panthers).

I struggle to see such a scare this year, though. Notre Dame has momentum after a statement win just two weeks ago, and they followed that win with a much-needed bye week. The Irish are well-rested (and probably the healthiest they’ve been since week zero), and Pitt is still finding their identity after an up-and-down first half of the season. It’s not a great combination of factors for an upset. Still, I won’t ignore history and bet on the Panthers rolling over in this one. Notre Dame doesn’t dominate, but, for the most part, stays comfortable and avoids the dramatics of prior Pitt visits with a two-score win. Notre Dame 31, Pitt 17.

Madeline Ladd, Associate Sports Editor

The Irish are rested from enjoying a long-anticipated bye week after dismantling the USC Trojans two weeks ago. However, Marcus Freeman’s crew can’t rest on their laurels as 2-5 Pitt comes to town. Despite their record, Pitt always plays a physical brand of football and the Panthers have several former Irish players on their roster. They know Irish graduate student quarterback Sam Hartman well, as they forced him into throwing four interceptions when they beat Wake Forest in the ACC Championship two years ago.

But Pitt just isn’t very good. Despite an upset of No. 14 Louisville the week after Notre Dame fell to the Cardinals, their record has been lackluster. Notre Dame needs its defense to repeat the effort it brought against USC and pressure Pitt quarterback Christian Veilleux to make him uncomfortable enough to make mistakes. The Pitt defense is tough against the run, so the Irish passing offense and Hartman must get into gear. Panther cornerbacks like to press, so hopefully Thomas, freshman Jaden Greathouse and the other receivers are finally healthy and are able to create some separation. Pitt will put up a fight but it just doesn’t match up talent-wise with the Irish. Notre Dame 35, Pitt 17.

Matthew Crow, Associate Sports Editor

The bye week could not have come at a better time for Notre Dame, who should not have much trouble at home against Pitt. Apart from a surprising win against Louisville, the Panthers’ offense has struggled through much of a 2-5 season. It now stares down an Irish defense that forced five turnovers against USC. The bigger questions for Notre Dame will come on offense, as the Irish aim to put together a complete performance on that side of the ball for the first time since starting 4-0. Look for a big outing from Hartman, who will take advantage of having all of his top targets available by throwing four touchdown passes. Notre Dame 38, Pitt 20.

Tom Zwiller, Senior Sports Writer

This Pitt team is … weird. They sit at 2-5 with a win over FCS foe Wofford and a top-25 team in the nation (current-No. 18 Louisville), with losses to Wake Forest and Virginia Tech. They punted on their starting quarterback in Phil Jurkovec and moved on to Veilleux and the impact has been slight. Notre Dame should have zero issues handling a poor passing attack that averages 3.4 yards per rush. 

Defensively, I think Pitt can be stingy and force turnovers. That’s pretty much how they beat Louisville. I trust Hartman and Co. to turn in a better performance, but there might be times when the offensive play calling is sub-optimal. The implied spread suggests this one might be low-scoring. Notre Dame should win comfortably, though. Notre Dame 31, Pitt 10.

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