Anyone who went into Saturday’s ND vs Pitt game and believed the 21.5 point spread… Isn’t a true ND fan. Or has never seen a game in this rivalry that dates back over 100 years.
Notre Dame was coming off two huge wins against ranked opponents. The team had been ranked #5 in the country. The players were coming off a tough midterm week, and looking ahead to the bye week. (Not saying overlooking Pitt) but just looking forward to rest.
Pitt was coming off a tough overtime win against Syracuse to bring their record to 3-3. They lost their senior defensive leader in practice for the year, and they were coming to ND to win a football game, not to enjoy a beautiful Saturday afternoon in South Bend.
It was the perfect recipe for an upset. Even without all of that… Pitt always plays Notre Dame tough. They always find a way to make it a ballgame and always find a way to make us Irish fans sweat.
Oh yeah… And, Pitt head coach Patt Narduzzi knows Brian Kelly and this Irish team so well. Dating back to his days at Cinci to coaching at Michigan State, so he knows exactly how to prepare his team for an Irish fight.
We thought the game had started off well. The defense got a stop and the Irish Offense was getting the ball back. Until… A ND special teams player (I will keep him nameless) jumped offsides to give the Panthers a fresh set of downs.
Pitt capitalized on this opportunity. They went on a 10 Minute 1st QTR drive, that capped off with a Qadeee Ollison 9 yard touchdown, 7-0 Pitt.
Once ND got the ball back, Ian Book threw an interception. “Oh no its happening” the defense had been on the field forever and was thrown right back out there, but they held and forced a punt.
The Irish Offense was spinning it’s wheels. The running game couldn’t get going. The Pitt defense was bringing a ton of pressure and confusing Ian Book. Both offenses traded punts until..
With 4:34 left in the first half the Irish got on the board with a Justin Yoon 22 yard field goal. They would get the ball back again, and go on very good drive. Deep in Pitt territory they would convert on a 4th down. However Book would be taken down 3 straight plays and it forced another Justin Yoon FG to end the half.
7-6 Pitt. 30 minutes of football to keep this special Irish season going. 30 minutes of football to keep the dream of a spot in the college football playoff alive.
Pitt opens the second half with a 99 yard kickoff return touchdown, 14-6 Pitt.
“Oh no it really is happening.”
Then just like after their last touchdown, Ian Book would throw another interception to set up the Panthers. But it’s ok… This Irish Defense is special. They forced a Pitt FG attempt that would miss.
And ND would make them pay.
Book became Superman after that second INT. He led the offense on an 8 play 71 yard drive capped off with a 16 yard touchdown pass to Chase Claypool. The Irish would fail to convert the 2 point conversion and remained down 2, 14-12 Pitt.
Pitt would get the ball back and again miss a field goal.
“YES… IT’S HAPPENING”
After both offenses traded punts, Ian Book was back on the field with a chance to win the game. He put the offense on his back and led them on a 5 play 80 yard drive. He connected on a beautiful ball to Miles Boykin for a 35 yard touchdown.
Irish 19 Pitt 14.
The defense would continue to come up big and force two turnover on downs to win the game. After the opening Pitt drive touchdown the Irish Defense did not allow a point.
What a game, what a win, what a fight.
Ian Book would finish the game 26 of 32 for 264 yards, 2 TD’s and 2 INT’s. He also led the rushing attack with 31 yards, something the Pitt defense contained all game. Miles Boykin was the leading receiver with 4 catches for 84 yard and the game winning touchdown.
My unsung hero’s of this game on Offense was Chris Fink. He made some very big plays in crucial spots. Hauling in 6 catches for 61 yards. On defense, Julian Love continues to show why he is one of the best defense backs in the country. He had 3 total tackles and added another pass defended.
Te’von Coney again was all over the field with 8 tackles, as well as Julian Okwara having another stand out game. The talented Junior had 6 total tackles, 4 solo, 1 tackle for loss and SEVEN QB hurries. Have a day.
The Irish have now moved up to #4 in the country with the Georgia loss. They have a well deserved bye week before heading to San Diego for an always tough battle against Navy.
This Irish Team is battle tested. They have won with offense and won with defense. They have won blowouts and now have won another tough gritty fight. They don’t call them the Fighting Irish for nothing.
7-0. #4 in the nation. GO IRISH. Keep rollin.
-Kevin “That Irish Guy”
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Yup... I’m that guy