Notre Dame-Pittsburgh Preview Capsule
Line: Notre Dame by 7 1/2.
Series Record: Notre Dame leads 47-21-1.
WHAT'S AT STAKE: The Fighting Irish's chances to stay in the mix for the College Football Playoff. The selection committee had Notre Dame a surprising fifth when the initial standings were released this week. Any misstep, however, and the school's shot of working its way into the final four disappears.
Pitt's secondary vs. Notre Dame WR Will Fuller. The Panthers were hit for a series of big plays in last week's loss to North Carolina and face an even stiffer challenge against Fuller, who is averaging 20.2 yards per reception and already has nine touchdowns, six of them of 30 yards or more.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Notre Dame: DL Romeo Okwara. The senior leads the Fighting Irish with four sacks and is second behind Sheldon Day on tackles for loss and quarterback hits. Getting consistent pressure on Pitt's Nate Peterman will be key to take some of the heat off a secondary that has looked vulnerable at times.
Pittsburgh: WR Tyler Boyd. Despite constant double teams, the Panthers have found a way to get the ball into Boyd's hands. The problem, however, is that almost all of Boyd's touches are coming near the line of scrimmage. His 63 receptions are easily the tops in the ACC, but he's averaging just 9.2 yards per catch, a number that will have a tough time rising if one of the other Pitt receivers doesn't make significant strides.
FACTS & FIGURES
While Notre Dame has historically dominated the rivalry, the Irish hold just a 6-4 advantage in the last 10 meetings, nine of which have been decided by eight points or less. ... The Irish rallied past Temple last week, with Fuller hauling in the winning score with 2:09 left. ... The Panthers saw a four-game winning streak end in a 26-19 loss to North Carolina. ... Boyd needs just 49 yards receiving to eclipse Antonio Bryant's school record for career yards (3,061). ... This is Notre Dame's first noon kickoff in the regular season since playing at Pitt in 2011. ... The Irish already have 10 touchdowns of 50 yards or more, the most since the 1988 national championship team. ... Pitt is second in the ACC and 18th in the country in time of possession, averaging 33:07 per game.
AP college football website: collegefootball.ap.org