After finally breaking through and winning their first game of the season, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish take their show on the road to take on the Pittsburgh Panthers.
Pittsburgh's first three games have been the exact opposite of Notre Dame's. The Panthers beat Buffalo and Maine to start the season, but dropped their third game 31-27 to Iowa.
Notre Dame dropped their first two games to South Florida and Michigan, but came back with a 31-13 win over Michigan State in Week 3.
The Fighting Irish won the series' last game with a 23-17 win in 2010. The Panthers won in 27-22 in 2009, the last time the game was played in Pittsburgh.
Where: Heinz Field. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
When: Saturday, September 24. 12 p.m. EST
Watch: ABC/ESPN/ESPN2 depending on your location.
According to betonline.com, Notre Dame is -7. I like this spread. Notre Dame's defense looked good in their opener and the offense was strong in their second game. In Week 3 they should finally put both units together and defeat Michigan State.
Pittsburgh's record is better, but their competition hasn't been especially stiff. The last three games in this rivalry have all been close, but I'll go with Notre Dame to win and cover.
The over/under is set at 55. Given what both offenses have shown that they are capable of, that doesn't seem too tough.
Still, I like a game that's more like what we've seen in recent years. They will come close to 55, but the under seems like the bet here.
Notre Dame linebacker Danny Spond (hamstring) is questionable.
Notre Dame OL Tate Nichols (knee) is out.
Notre Dame TE Mike Ragone, S Eliar Hardy, and RB Cameron Robinson are all out for the season with knee injuries.
Pittsburgh WR Ed Tinker (leg) is probable.
Pittsburgh LB Dan Mason (knee) is out.
BCS/Top 25 Poll Implications
Neither team is ranked right now. A win would probably not be good enough to get either in the Top 25, but losing would probably guarantee that neither will be ranked at any time this year.
Keys to Notre Dame Win
Notre Dame needs to avoid being one dimensional. Michael Floyd is a great dimension to have if you only get one, but they can't become predictable.
Jonas Gray, Cierre Wood and TJ Jones were all effective weapons against Michigan State. If even one of those is going strong along with Floyd, it's very hard to see Notre Dame losing this one.
Keys to Pittsburgh Win
Pittsburgh needs to find a way to shut down Notre Dame's offensive weapons and limit Floyd. Notre Dame has been turnover prone this year. If that persists this week, the Panthers need to take full advantage.
Notre Dame has too many weapons here. I look for a good game for the first half, but expect Notre Dame's attack to be too strong by the end of the game.
Notre Dame 34, Pittsburgh 17
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