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Notre Dame vs Pitt
It seemed like the stars were aligned perfectly this year for this Notre Dame football team. They looked to have a very good football team and their schedule was very favorable, so people started to wonder if this was the year that Notre Dame began to get back to national prominence. Notre Dame opened the season with a 35-0 victory over a solid Nevada football team, so it really started to look like the Fighting Irish were for real. Then everything started to go downhill. In their next game they lost to a very average Michigan football team. After that game they squeeked out three straight wins against Michigan State, Purdue, and Washington before falling at home to USC. After following that loss up with two wins over Boston College and Washington State this Notre Dame football team suffered their worst loss of the season in a 23-21 loss to Navy. Not only did Navy beat them, but this was the 2nd loss to Navy in three years. Charlie Weis seat has never been hotter as the Notre Dame football coach and he really needs to get a win this weekend. It will be far from easy against to take down the Pittsburgh Panthers.
Pittsburgh is 8-1 on the year and is right in the thick of things in the Big East title race. They have a brutal final three games to finish out the season with games against West Virginia and Cincinnati after this week's game, so it is very important for the Panthers to come out and play good football and get some momentum going to end the year, because they are going to be tested the rest of the year.
THE PRIMETIME MATCHUP
At first look it seemed like the key matchup was going to be Notre Dame's rush defense against Pittsburgh rushing attack led by RB Dion Lewis. Notre Dame is coming into this game off their loss to Navy where they gave up 348 yards rushing. This Notre Dame defense has been struggling, and thats not good news since one of the nation's best Running Backs in Dion Lewis is on the opposing sideline this weekend. That matchup is going to play a big role in this game, but we believe the #1 matchup is going to be Notre Dame's running game vs Pittsburgh's rush defense. It is no secret that Notre Dame wants to throw the ball around. Against Navy they ran the ball just 20 times all game and threw the ball 51 times. Notre Dame has to be much more balanced on offense to get the win this Saturday. Make no mistake the Fighting Irish are a passing team, but they cannot expect to throw the ball 51 times without a running game and win. When you have 512 yards of total offense with 452 of those yards coming through the air and can only put up 21 points you have problems. This Notre Dame offense has become way to predictable and it seems like Charlie Weis knows it, but still continues to sling the ball around. Pittsburgh is ranked 2nd in the Big East in pass defense giving up just over 200 yards per game through the air, so they have a very good secondary. If Notre Dame abandons the running game and becomes one dimensional they are going to have problems all day getting the ball in the endzone.
THE FINAL VERDICT
Pittsburgh RB Dion Lewis is having an amazing freshman season. He has rushed for 1139 yards on the season with 12 TD's. Considering Navy tore through the Notre Dame defense all game on the ground we expect Dion Lewis to have another big game on the ground. When he is able to have success he opens things up for his QB Bill Stull who is having a great year. Notre Dame's defense just isn't playing good enough to be able to stop this Pittsburgh offense, and once Pittsburgh opens up an early lead Notre Dame will completely abandon the running game and become one dimensional, and from what we saw last week against Navy the Fighting Irish cannot do that and be successful. Things are just not going the right direction for this Notre Dame football team, and this just might be the game where the wheels completely come off for Charlie Weis and his Fighting Irish.