What happened and what mattered in the Notre Dame 19-14 win over Pitt?
Notre Dame 19, Pitt 14
This is one of those weekends when a whole lot of good teams had to take a big punch. Notre Dame struggled and couldn’t find an offensive rhythm, but the defense did its part throughout the game. When Ian Book had to come up with the one big throw, he did it to take the lead late. The defense took care of the rest.
Pitt wasn’t going to let Dexter Williams carry the Irish O. The Panthers swarmed all over him, allowing just 31 yards on 13 carries, and kept Notre Dame’s running game to just 79 yards on the day. But Book was once again deadly accurate. He might have thrown two picks, but he also completed 26-of-34 passes for two touchdowns, including the one to Miles Boykin with just under six minutes to play to pull away for good.
No, the Pitt offense wasn’t doing anything, but why go to a fake punt on a key fourth down? Kenny Pickett completed 19-of-28 passes on the day with nothing happening down the field, and the Irish defense stepped up the intensity, but the Panthers put the ball in the hands of a punter when they had to keep the chains moving.
The Panther defense gave the offense a whole slew of chances to take the game over, and it didn’t happen. Pitt went on an 88-yard scoring drive late in the first quarter, and managed just 154 yards of total offense for the rest of the game.
Notre Dame gets two weeks now to rest up, and it’s at the perfect time. Now, after such a struggle against a mediocre team. there’s no inflation of egos or hype – this game showed it could lose to anyone left on the slate. It got away with the win this week, but now there’s just one game in South Bend the rest of the way – against Florida State.
This was Pitt’s chance to turn the season and the program around, and it couldn’t come through in the second half. At 3-4, there’s still a shot to go bowling, but three of the last four games are on the road, and the two final home games are against Duke and Virginia Tech. The Panthers will be the underdogs the rest of the way.