The third-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish travel to Pittsburgh this weekend for their first road trip of the season. Pitt enters the contest with a 3-3 record, but the Panthers have dropped three straight contests.
At this point, the Panthers have nothing to lose, and a defense that is quite talented.
The Irish Breakdown staff has broken down the matchups, and now it's time to make predictions.
BRYAN DRISKELL, PUBLISHER
Prediction: Notre Dame 31, Pitt 9
Notre Dame has scuffled on offense for much of the season, and now it must face arguably the best defense it will face all season. To make the challenge even more difficult, it is also Notre Dame's first road game of the season.
Based on how Notre Dame played on offense a week ago during its 12-7 win over Louisville, it makes sense why some might think there is upset potential here, and that this will be a low scoring game.
I'm going another way. I don't think Pitt has much of a chance to pull off this upset. Notre Dame is a terrible matchup for Pitt, and I expect the Irish defense to absolutely dominate the Pitt offense.
Offensively, I think offensive coordinator Tommy Rees is going to push the tempo a bit early, get quarterback Ian Book into an early rhythm and I fully expect Notre Dame to attack down the field and to get the tight ends rolling in this contest. After hitting some early shots, the Irish ground game takes over and Notre Dame rolls the Panthers.
VINCE DEDARIO, FOOTBALL ANALYST
Prediction: Notre Dame 24, Pitt 10
Obviously, the matchup here is the Notre Dame offense versus the Pitt defense, specifically the run game. Pitt is giving up just 61 yards per game on the ground, and up to this point that is Notre Dame's strength. Something has to give.
Can the Irish push the ball down field enough to loosen up that Pitt front? The tight end has been a weapon for teams against the Panthers so far this season, and ND has two of the best in the country, but haven't used them to their potential yet. Hopefully they change that this week.
With Pitt starting redshirt freshman Joey Yellen at quarterback over an injured Kenny Pickett, I do not think the offense will be very explosive through the air and they haven't proven anything on the ground yet in the past few years let alone games. Irish defensive coordinator Clark Lea has to be excited to go up against this offense on Saturday.
The big X factor is going to be how ND handles its first road trip of the season. If they can manage that then ND moves to 5-0.
RYAN PALMERI, IB CONTRIBUTOR
Prediction: Notre Dame 24, Pitt 17
Pitt has been a thorn in Notre Dame's side. The offense for the Panthers looks a bit different in years past. The passing game is what works and the run game has been abysmal.
However, the Pitt defense is still as talented as ever. Quarterback Ian Book has been getting bashed over the last week and needs to show up to prove everyone wrong, I just don't think he will.
JP SCOTT, IB CONTRIBUTOR
Prediction: Notre Dame 33, Pitt 14
The Irish have something to prove after an embarrassing performance last weekend. Many in the media, both Notre Dame and otherwise, treated it like a loss. The players and staff heard those grumbles loud and clear. Look for Notre Dame to open up the offense and bounce back with a statement road win this weekend.
BRIAN SMITH, IB CONTRIBUTOR
Prediction: Notre Dame 24, Pitt 16
In an ugly game, ND grinds out a win. Quarterback Ian Book continues to struggle with connecting to what’s become a pedestrian receiving corps, but the running game provides just enough spark to win.
Running back Kyren Williams goes for 120-yards and two scores. Irish ‘D’ keeps everything in front of them and plays great red zone defense.
To read former Notre Dame quarterback Steve Beuerlein's analysis of this matchup click HERE.
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