Notre Dame takes on Pitt at 2:30 Saturday on NBC. The undefeated Irish look to keep their playoff hopes alive against the 3-3 Pitt Panthers.
The Irish currently sit as 21 point favorites. Most likely the Irish shouldn’t have any issues but the is going to be the Panther’s Superbowl. Here’s a few keys to success for the Irish.
Containing RB Darrin Hall and RB Qadree Ollison
The two backs for Pittsburgh rushed for 300 yards last week and really make this offense go. The issue with the two backs is either one can go off. Last week Ollison was the top back with 192 yards last week against Syracuse. While Syracuse isn’t a top talent but they have a solid defense and was the same team that took Clemson down to the wire. The Irish will need the best from Tillery, Coney and the rest of the Irish defensive front. If Pitt is looking for an upset, both backs will need to have a big day.
Starting Fast on Offense
Pitt is a team that typically doesn’t get blown out when they play the Irish. Every Irish fan should still be haunted by that 2012 triple OT game. Any chance Pitt has for an upset is stopping the offense. As good as the Notre Dame defense is, a shut out is unlikely and the Irish can’t fall flat. That hasn’t happened since Book has taken over so I would expect a similar performance. The biggest worry would be a let down game because of the big win last week at Virginia Tech. Book and the Irish need a fast start and take Pitt out of this game early. Letting them hang around could result in another 2012 all over again.
Dexter Williams Having a Big Day
Since Williams has been back he has been on an absolute tear. Averaging 8.9 yards a carry and four touchdowns in two games is impressive to say the least. Williams struggled in the first half last week and the offense had a slow start as a result. While Book has improved this offense, this Kelly team still flows better when the rushing attack is working. Williams needs to start quick and take Pitt out of the game early. Pitt is giving up an average 200 yards rushing a game and just lost their defensive captain for the year. This spells big day for Williams but him starting fast should put the Panthers away early.
While Pitt has me worried, I think the Irish take care of business. Pitt will probably hang around and keep it close for about a quarter but Notre Dame is too talented. Look for the Irish to have another big offensive day behind Dexter Williams and the defense to do what they always do. The Irish should pull away in the second half and win comfortably.
ND 42- Pitt 17.