SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Fresh off consecutive victories against ranked opponents, Notre Dame returns home to host Pittsburgh on Saturday afternoon in its last game before its bye week. The fifth-seeded Fighting Irish passed another stiff test with flying colors last week, while the Panthers roll into South Bend after pulling off a home upset last weekend.
TV: 2:30 p.m. ET, NBC. LINE: Notre Dame -21.
Running back Dexter Williams exploded for a 97-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter to break open a tight game as Notre Dame outscored Virginia Tech 28-7 in the second half for a 45-23 road win. The Fighting Irish had minus-5 rushing yards on the evening before Williams broke free, but the senior found holes in the second half and wound up with 178 yards and three touchdowns on 17 carries, bringing his season total to 339 total rushing yards in the two games he has played since returning from suspension. Pitt snapped a two-game losing streak by overcoming a 75-minute weather delay and a late charge from Syracuse to knock off the Orange 44-37 in overtime. “I'm happy for those guys in there. They needed that one, and they deserved that one,” Panthers coach Pat Narduzzi told reporters after the game.
ABOUT PITTSBURGH (3-3)
Narduzzi put the Syracuse game on the shoulders of his top two running backs, and the seniors responded as Qadree Ollison ran for 192 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries while Darrin Hall added 107 yards and two touchdowns on 17 attempts. There are still two major areas of concern for Pitt ahead of Saturday’s matchup with Notre Dame, however. The Panthers have had mediocre quarterback play all season, with Kenny Pickett yet to break the 200-yard passing mark in a game, and the defense is allowing 32.8 points per game, which ranks 99th nationally.
ABOUT NOTRE DAME (6-0)
In addition to Williams, Notre Dame’s defense deserved a game ball last week as it forced two turnovers - including a fumble recovery for a touchdown - and had two sacks and six tackles for a loss. Quarterback Ian Book struggled at times, missing open receivers downfield on multiple occasions, but still managed to go 25-of-35 for 271 yards and two touchdowns. Senior Miles Boykin continues to be Book’s go-to target, as the 6-4 receiver has 19 catches for 261 yards and three touchdowns in his last two contests.
1. Book has completed at least 70 percent of his passes in three straight games.
2. PK Justin Yoon became Notre Dame’s all-time leading scorer in the win over Virginia Tech. The senior passed Allen Pinkett (320) and has 322 career points.
3. Ollison ranks 18th in the country in total rushing yards (596).
PREDICTION: Notre Dame 49, Pittsburgh 24
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