The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are sky-high right now off last week’s shocking rout at Oklahoma, which lifted Notre Dame to No. 3 in the BCS standings. All the Irish must do is win out and they play for the national title. Thus it makes Saturday’s game with Pitt a huge potential letdown/trap. Notre Dame is a 16.5-point favorite onSportsbetonline.com.
The Panthers (4-4, 1-3) have won two straight. Last week they played their best game of the season, routing Temple 47-17. – Ray Graham rushed for two touchdowns and caught another. He finished with 180 yards of total offense — 109 rushing and 71 receiving — as the Panthers finally broke through after starting their last season in the Big East with three straight losses. Rushel Shell added 79 yards rushing and a score for Pitt. Quarterback Tino Sunseri passed for 321 yards and three scores while the defense kept Temple under wraps until the game was well in hand.
Consecutive wins have Pitt back at .500 and looking more like the team that routed Virginia Tech at home in Week 3 than the one that dropped its opener by two touchdowns to an FCS team. The biggest reason for that is the emergence of Sunseri, who has not tossed an interception since that win over the Hokies. He has thrown for 1,682 yards with 11 touchdowns and one pick in his last six games, and he leads the Big East in pass efficiency.
Notre Dame (8-0) had the program’s biggest win in years, winning 30-13 in Norman. Everett Golson threw for 177 yards and plunged in for the decisive 1-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, and linebacker Manti Te’o bolstered his Heisman Trophy candidacy with a late interception. He sealed the victory with his fourth-quarter interception and added 11 tackles and a sack. The Irish, who were giving up just 9.4 points per game, haven’t allowed more than 17 in a game this season. . Te’o leads a unit that ranks ninth in FBS in run defense (95.25 yards per game) and second in scoring defense (9.88 ppg).
The Irish are 9-0 under Brian Kelly when they don’t commit a turnover. In both of its wins against Top 10 opponents — then No. 8 Oklahoma and then No. 10 Michigan State — the Irish went without a turnover.
The Panthers last faced a team ranked in the Top 4 on Dec. 1, 2007. That year a 4-7 Pitt team traveled to Morgantown to face 10-1 West Virginia, ranked first in the coaches’ poll and second by the Associated Press. Considered the greatest upset win in school history, Pitt edged the Mountaineers, 13-9, to knock its archrival from a potential berth in the BCS title game.
Notre Dame has won seven of the last nine meetings, but the teams have split the last four. In the last four years, every matchup has been decided by five points or less. In 2008, Pitt prevailed 36-33 in a thrilling four overtime win.
Sportsbet trends: Road team is 5-1-1 ATS in their last 7 meetings. Underdog is 6-0-1 ATS in their last 7 meetings.