NOTRE DAME FOOTBALL NOTES VS. PITT
(NOTRE DAME SPORTS INFORMATION)
PANTHERS BACK AT ND STADIUM
- This year’s matchup marks the 71st meeting between Notre Dame and Pittsburgh, with
the Irish holding a *47-21-1 series lead.
- The teams first played in 1909, 1911 and 1912 (all at Pittsburgh’s legendary Forbes
Field), with Notre Dame picking up two wins and a tie and shutting out Pittsburgh in
all three contests. The series resumed from 1930-37 before taking a five-year break.
It picked up again from 1943-54, took 1955 off, and then played every year in a
23-season stretch (1956-78) before taking a four-year hiatus in the series. The Irish
and Panthers met in 1982 and 1983, every season from 1986-92, and then 1996, 1997,
1999, 2001-05 and 2008-13 before the most recent series meeting in 2015.
- Notre Dame has won *16 of the last 21 meetings with the Panthers, including *eight
of the last 10 games at Notre Dame Stadium.The Irish own a *20-10 record against
Pittsburgh at Notre Dame Stadium.
- Notre Dame has won *30 of its last 40 contests against the Panthers, dating back to
1964 (Ara Parseghian’s first year as Notre Dame’s head coach).
- Pittsburgh notched its highest point total ever in the series (41) in its 2004 meeting
with Notre Dame; conversely, the Irish have topped the 40-point level 20 times against
the Panthers, including an eight-game stretch from 1965-72.
- Notre Dame enters the Pittsburgh game ranked in the AP top 25 for the 37th time out of
62 meetings since the poll began in 1936. The Irish are *26-10-0 (.722) in the previous
36 such games. Unranked Pittsburgh teams have beaten ranked Notre Dame squads
seven times, including a 28-21 Panther win in 2013.
- Saturday’s game will be the 214th official meeting between Notre Dame and current
members of the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Irish are a combined *143-63-3 (.691)
all-time against ACC foes, with 47 wins against Pittsburgh leading the series histories.
IRISH CONQUER THE HOKIES IN VA • A second half explosion that saw 28 points, and a stout defensive stand, vaulted Notre Dame over No. 24 Virginia Tech 45-23 last Saturday in Blacksburg. • Notre Dame earned the victory in its first trip to Lane Stadium. It was the seventh straight defeat of Virginia Tech at Lane Stadium when the Hokies faced a ranked opponent, dating back to 2009. • Notre Dame’s 45 points were the most allowed by Virginia Tech in regulation at Lane Stadium since a 49-12 loss at the hands of Houston on Sept. 28, 1974. • Notre Dame’s 22-point margin of victory was its largest road win against an AP ranked team since a 51-0 rout of No. 10 USC on Nov. 26, 1966. • In 16 of the last 19 games dating back to the start of 2017, Notre Dame has either forced a turnover or held an opponent to a punt on the opening drive of a game. The Irish forced a Virginia Tech three-and-out and punt in the first quarter. • Notre Dame outscored Virginia Tech 28-7 in the second half to gain separation from a 17-16 halftime lead. The Irish have outpaced No. 7 Stanford and No. 24 Virginia Tech by a combined 45-13 in the second half each of the last two weeks. • Notre Dame extended its scoring total over opponents in the first quarter this season to 62-16 through six games.
ND OFFENSE CLICKING ON ALL CYLINDERS • The Notre Dame offense has averaged a dynamic 46.3 points per game in three wins over Wake Forest (56-27), No. 7 Stanford (38-17) and No. 24 Virginia Tech (45-23). • According to research compiled by Blue & Gold Illustrated, the 139 points for Notre Dame over the past three weeks equals the most for the Irish in any three-game stretch in the Brian Kelly era (49 against Boston College, 38 against Michigan State and 52 against Miami (Ohio) last September).
- Notre Dame’s road performances have been particularly impressive, as the 56 points at Wake Forest on Sept. 22 and the 45 points last Saturday at Virginia Tech marked the first time that the Irish have scored 45 or more points in consecutive true road performances in nearly 25 years. • On Oct. 2, 1993, Notre Dame improved to 5-0 with a 48-20 drubbing of Stanford at Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto, California. McDougal rushed for two touchdowns and Derrick Mayes added two scoring receptions for the Irish in the win over the Cardinal, which saw Notre Dame outscore the hosts by a combined 35-14 score in the second half. • Following a 44-0 shutout of Pittsburgh the very next weekend at Notre Dame Stadium, the Irish turned up the offensive jets on the road yet again on Oct. 16, 1993 at BYU. Notre Dame scored 31 unanswered points out of the gate, and a 122-yard rushing day for Lee Becton carried the day in a 42-20 win over the Cougars in Provo, Utah. Becton, Ray Zellars and Marc Edwards (two) all scored rushing touchdowns for Notre Dame in the win at BYU, while Michael Miller hauled in a touchdown catch apiece from Kevin McDougal and Paul Failla. • The 45-point plateau has been reached in consecutive games away from Notre Dame Stadium since October of 1993, just not exclusively in opponents’ home venues. The most recent occurrence prior to Saturday night at Virginia Tech was in 1996 against Navy and Boston College. • On Nov. 2, 1996 at Croke Park in Dublin, Ireland, Notre Dame galloped for 321 yards on the ground and six rushing touchdowns in a 54-27 rout of Navy. Autry Denson gained 123 yards and scored two touchdowns on the ground, while Edwards chipped in three scores and Jamie Spencer an additional rushing TD. Renaldo Wynn added a 24-yard fumble return for a touchdown early in the third quarter as the Irish pulled away from the Midshipmen. • The next week at Alumni Stadium in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, Notre Dame broke a 21-all tie in the third quarter with 27 unanswered points to run away from Boston College 48-21. Denson powered the run game with 155 yards and a touchdown, and Robert Farmer contributed a pair of rushing touchdowns that included an 81-yard scamper in the third that gave the Irish the lead for good. Five total Notre Dame ball carries notched a rushing touchdown on the day. • Coincidentally, the Boston College game set the stage for most profound Notre Dame surge of points over a three-game span prior to the last three games and Sept. 16-30 of 2017. According to Blue & Gold Illustrated, the 170 points scored by Lou Holtz and Notre Dame against Boston College, Pittsburgh (60 on Nov. 16, 1996) and Rutgers (62, Nov. 23, 1996 in Holtz’s final game as Irish head coach at Notre Dame Stadium) set the watermark for points over three games before the Kelly era.
IRISH IN RARE NATIONAL AIR • For the second time in as many weeks, Notre Dame made headway among the 25 best teams in the nation according to both the Associated Press and the Amway Coaches polls, slotted fifth nationally following the 45-23 win at Virginia Tech last Saturday. • After the opening six weeks of the season, Notre Dame is one of 11 FBS football teams that has posted an undefeated record. Of the 11 remaining undefeated teams from college football’s top division, only four have achieved that mark playing exclusively FBS competition (No. 5 Notre Dame, No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Georgia and No. 3 Ohio State). • Breaking that number down even further, only Notre Dame and Ohio State have registered at least five wins against foes that reside in the Power Five conferences of FBS football (ACC, SEC, Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12). The Irish own wins against teams from the Big Ten (No. 14 Michigan), the SEC (Vanderbilt), the ACC (Wake Forest and No. 24 Virginia Tech) and the Pac-12 (No. 7 Stanford). Including the 2018 season, Notre Dame, USC and UCLA are the only teams in the FBS to have never played an opponent from the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS).
THE LAST 6-0 START TO LOOK LIKE THIS • Notre Dame raced out to its third 6-0 start under head coach Brian Kelly following last Saturday’s 45-23 win at Virginia Tech, equaling similar fast starts in 2012* and 2014. Notre Dame has enjoyed five 6-0 starts since 1990 combined, adding similar efforts in 1993 and 2002 to the three occurrences in the last seven years. • The 2018 season also marks the first time the Irish have opened 6-0 in a given season with three wins over ranked foes since 1980* (all 12 wins in 2012, which included three top-25 wins in the first six, were later vacated by the NCAA Committee on Infractions). • 2018 marks the 13th season in which Notre Dame has opened 6-0 in the last 68 seasons. In that time, the Irish have won national championships in 1966, 1973 and 1988, while reaching No. 1 in the national polls in six additional seasons (1964, 1970, 1980, 1989, 1993 and 2012). • This season’s edition of Notre Dame football was the first in the Kelly era to win the first three games without ever trailing or being tied after scoring the game’s first points. A Wake Forest field goal in the first quarter of game four marked the only time the Irish have trailed all season, just 2:13 of game action, before a 30-yard Jafar Armstrong touchdown rush tipped the scales back in Notre Dame’s favor. • While the 2012 team opened 5-0 without ever officially trailing on the scoreboard during a game, Purdue was able to tie Notre Dame twice, in the second quarter at 7-7 and in the fourth quarter at 17-17 before current quarterbacks coach Tom Rees engineered the game-winning Irish two-minute drill for a *20-17 victory on Sept. 8 of that year to improve to 3-0. • In fact, Notre Dame’s 3-0 start while remaining ahead on the scoreboard without ties was believed to be the first of its kind for the Irish since the fall of 1989. That season, Notre Dame finished 12-1 under legendary head coach Lou Holtz and downed No. 1 Colorado 21-6 to claim the 1990 Orange Bowl and a final Associated Press ranking of second. • To open the campaign on Aug. 31, 1989, Notre Dame breezed past Virginia 36-13 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Irish built a 33-0 lead after the first half of play that was keyed by rushing touchdowns from Anthony Johnson (two), Tony Rice, Ricky Watters and Rodney Culver. • In a one versus two matchup two weeks later at Michigan Stadium, the top-ranked Irish led throughout against No. 2 Michigan in a 24-19 win on Sept. 16 in Ann Arbor. Anthony Johnson scored a six-yard touchdown run in the second quarter to put Notre Dame on the board, and although Michigan answered with a touchdown of its own just before the half the Wolverines were unable to convert the PAT. The Irish lead grew as high as 12 points (24-12) early in the fourth quarter thanks to a 92-yard kickoff return touchdown by the electric Raghib “Rocket” Ismail. • No. 1 Notre Dame found itself in a dogfight once more during the 1989 home opener on Sept. 23 against Michigan State, but came out on the right side of a 21-13 win in front of a capacity crowd of 59,075 at Notre Dame Stadium. Watters scored touchdowns from two yards and 53 yards out during the first half to build a 14-0 Notre Dame lead, and two Spartan field goals in the second quarter and a touchdown in the third quarter trimmed the Irish advantage to 14-13. Notre Dame put the game away on a one-yard touchdown run by Johnson with just over eight minutes left in the fourth quarter.