The Notre Dame Fighting Irish travel to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for a matchup against the Pitt Panthers this week after barely escaping Philly last week with a win over Temple. The Irish won that game 24-20 to improve to 7-1. Meanwhile, the Pitt Panthers lost to the North Carolina Tar Heels last week by a score of 26-19 to fall to 6-2 on the season.
In the first College Football Playoff rankings, the Irish came in at number five. In the AP poll, they are currently number eight in the nation. Pitt is not ranked in any polls currently.
As FoxSports.com noted, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish last year were 7-1, and ranked number eight in the country with their one loss coming to an undefeated team ranked in the top four. This year they are again 7-1 and ranked number eight in the country, with their one loss coming to an undefeated team ranked in the top four. They lost their last four games of the season after that. They are trying to avoid that this season, and are hopeful of making the playoff.
Fighting Irish coach Brian Kelly talked about that, and how this group won’t fall like the team last year when he said, “This team is a different group, different personalities, a little bit different offensively in terms of what we're doing, as well.”
Brian Kelly is 13-7 in the month of November as the head coach of Notre Dame, but in his first three years at Notre Dame he was 10-1. The drop is due to the fact he went 1-4 in November last year.
Notre Dame and Pittsburgh have played 69 times. In those matchups, the Irish own a 47-21-1 record. The biggest win the Irish have in the history of the series is a 58-0 win in 1944. The biggest win for the Panthers against the Irish was a 26-0 win in 1936. The longest Irish win streak in the series was an 11-game winning streak from 1964-1974. The longest Panther win streak in the series was a three game winning streak from 1932-1934.
The key player for Notre Dame is Deshone Kizer, who played decently last week in spite of throwing two interceptions, proved once again he is the most clutch quarterback in all of college football when he rattled off a game winning drive at the end of the game to beat Temple. If Notre Dame wants to avoid the upset, Kizer has to protect the ball and stay clutch at the end.
The key player for Pittsburgh is Tyler Boyd. Boyd is one of the best receivers in the country and Pitt’s best player. If the Panthers wants to pull off the upset, they have to get Boyd going and tearing up the Notre Dame secondary which has been suspect this year.