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It took a four-game win streak, but Notre Dame is once again ranked, coming in as No. 23 in the BCS Standings. They'll be on the road this week against a team that gave them tons of trouble last year in Pittsburgh. The Panthers have lost three of their last four games, but they know how to put up a fight. The Fighting Irish are only -4.5 point favorites on the road at Pitt, at 5 dimes sportsbook.
In last year's game, Pittsburgh was huge underdogs on the road at 16.5 points, going against the undefeated Irish. Even though Pitt led for most of the game, Notre Dame got two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to tie it up and push it to its eventual three overtimes. No matter where these teams are ranked coming into this matchup, it usually turns out to be a back-and-forth battle. In eight of the last nine games, the winning team has won by single digits. In three of the last five meetings, the game has come down to a field goal and in the other two it was a five- or six-point win. The spread on this game may seem low for Notre Dame, but looking at the history, it makes complete sense.
Notre Dame is riding four straight wins after starting the season with a 3-2 record. The Irish barely got by Navy at home last weekend 38-34. Pittsburgh lost to that same Navy team on the road 24-21.
Just when you thought ND's defense was back to normal, they give up 34 points to Navy. It'll be interesting to see what the Panthers can do on this defense.
Pittsburgh didn't have much of an offense last year, but they still ran over the Irish as Ray Graham went for 172 yards and a score. It's going to be the Isaac Bennett show this year, one would think, although he is coming of a six-carry game in Pitt's loss to Georgia Tech. Bennett has had explosive games (240 yards), but has had other games where he is a non-factor (five yards). Bennett needs to have a big game for Pitt to be in contention. Tom Savage isn't doing bad in his first year as the starting QB, but he's not going to beat Notre Dame by himself. He has 14 TDs and seven INTs on the year, with six of his touchdowns coming in one game.
Like ND, Pittsburgh has a solid defense, but has also slipped up multiple times through the year. Their task will be to contain Tommy Rees, which isn't out of reach.
Rees has looked better lately with nine TDs in the last three games, but his two interceptions against Navy almost cost them the win. If he can limit those turnovers, it's going to be tough for Pitt to stop TJ Jones and DaVaris Daniels on the edges. The Fighting Irish lack a consistent rushing threat, but Cam McDaniel (464 yards) and George Atkinson III (455 yards) can get the job done.
Expect another low-scoring, close game between these two teams, with the winner going to whoever doesn't turn the ball over.
The Panthers are 8-1 ATS in their last nine home games vs. a team with a winning road record. The Fighting Irish don't have many trends, but they are 1-3-1 ATS in the last five meetings between these teams. Also in this matchup, the road team is 6-1-1 ATS, while the underdog is 7-0-1 ATS in the last eight games.
A whopping 93% of the betting action as of Tuesday has been on the Irish according to the betting trends at sportsbook.com. You can view the betting trends for all sports, every game, just by opening an account with them.
Notre Dame is the better team here and has proven so against a better schedule. But the last 5 games in this series were decided by 6 points or less, the last two by a field goal, and our model has the Irish on top by 3 using season to date stats. That combined with going against the public, which is all over the Irish, make Pitt woorth a look here. Pitt +4
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