A Pitt comeback in the second half helped nix any chance of Notre Dame getting into a BCS bowl. (Keith Srakocic/AP)
Notre Dame's troubles with Pittsburgh are well-documented, even when the Fighting Irish are on a roll. Last November, the Panthers nearly squashed the Irish's unbeaten regular season in a triple-overtime thriller, but an Everett Golson touchdown run saved Notre Dame from sudden disappointment. That loss would have crushed the Irish's shot at an eventual berth in the BCS title game.
This time around, the Panthers exacted their revenge. Pitt's defense forced three turnovers, including two picks from much-maligned quarterback Tommy Rees, to snag a 28-21 win. The Panthers rallied from a 21-14 deficit late in the third quarter, as quarterback Tom Savage completed 22-of-35 passes for 243 yards with two scores.
With Saturday's loss, whatever hopes the Irish (7-3) had of crashing the BCS are now gone. Notre Dame opened this season with two losses (at Michigan and vs. Oklahoma) in its first five games, and the program appeared to be slipping after its 12-1 campaign in 2012. But coach Brian Kelly's roster had seemingly turned things around since. They'd won four straight heading into the weekend, including victories over No. 22 Arizona State and fast-improving USC.
Still, a November loss to an unranked foe nixes the Irish's BCS hopes. While Notre Dame must come to grips with life outside the BCS, Pitt (5-4, 2-3 ACC) needs only one more win become bowl eligible. This season, it's Kelly's program that must find a way to regroup.