Notre Dame vs. Pittsburgh

No. 3 Notre Dame vs. Pittsburgh | 2020 NCAAF Expert Analysis

Written by on October 22, 2020

Third-ranked Notre Dame’s transition to the ACC has gone smoothly so far as the Irish are unbeaten in the conference but could be on upset alert Saturday at a very solid Pittsburgh team that is on a three-game losing streak – but two of those by just one point each.

How to Bet Notre Dame at Pittsburgh NCAA Football Odds & TV Info

Series History

It’s the 72nd all-time meeting and the Irish visit Heinz Field for the first time since 2015. Ten of the past 12 games between Pitt and Notre Dame have been decided by single digits, including the most recent encounter, a 19-14 Irish victory at Notre Dame Stadium in 2018. Irish QB Ian Book overcame two early turnovers and led a pair of key second-half touchdown drives to put the Irish ahead for good in the fourth quarter. Notre Dame leads all-time 49-21-1.

Notre Dame is the highest-rated opponent to visit Heinz Field since No. 2 Miami on Nov. 24, 2017. Pitt upset the 10-0 Hurricanes, 24-14, derailing their College Football Playoff aspirations.

Why Bet on Notre Dame? | 2020 NCAAF Expert Analysis

The Irish (4-0) struggled last week in a 12-7 home win over Louisville. The Irish ran the ball well, finishing with 232 yards on 49 carries. Sophomore Kyren Williams paced the Irish backfield with 127 yards on 25 carries, marking his third 100-yard rushing effort on the season. Ian Book had a 13-yard TD run and accumulated 106 passing yards, completing 11-of-19 attempts. Book is now seventh all-time in program history in wins as a starting quarterback (24). Book has totaled five rushing touchdowns through the first four games of the season, already surpassing his season high of four from both 2018 and 2019.

With just seven points allowed today, the defense has yielded just 11.5 points per game through the four games of the season. Notre Dame has now held 29-of-30 opponents to 30 or fewer points in the Clark Lea era. No FBS team has a longer active win streak than the Irish (10 games).

Notre Dame has now won 22-consecutive games at home — extending the longest modern-day streak in Irish history and ranking second among all FBS teams in home win streaks. However, this will be the Irish’s first road game of 2020.

Book is tied for fourth in the ACC in scoring (TDs), averaging 7.5 points per game individually, and is 24-3 (.889) as a starter. Notre Dame is 26-7 (.788) against ACC opponents since the scheduling agreement began during the 2014 season, and including 2020 play as a conference member.

Notre Dame is the only team in the ACC to have three different players mark a 100-yard rushing game this season, and no Power 5 team has more than Notre Dame’s three. Irish running backs have reached the 100-yard mark five times this season, a figure which ties for the lead among all Power 5 teams and in the ACC with Virginia Tech. Just one FBS team has had more (Liberty, six).

Why Bet on Pittsburgh? | 2020 NCAAF Expert Analysis

The Panthers (3-3) lost their third in a row last week, 31-19 at No. 13 Miami. Pitt was without senior quarterback Kenny Pickett, who suffered an ankle injury against Boston College in the previous game. Pickett was leading the nation with 1,389 passing yards but didn’t travel with the team. Redshirt freshman Joey Yellen replaced Pickett, completing 22 of 46 passes for 277 yards and a touchdown.

Freshman wide receiver Jordan Addison recorded his first career 100-yard receiving game for the Panthers. Addison finished with eight receptions for 147 yards with a long catch of 55 yards. He recorded the most receiving yards by a Pitt freshman since Tyler Boyd had 173 vs. Bowling Green in 2013. Alex Kessman kicked four field goals for the Panthers and became Pitt’s all-time leader with 57. Kessman surpassed Chris Blewitt, who had 55 field goals from 2013-16. Pitt is averaging nearly 10 penalties per game for a loss of 86.7 yards during its three-game losing streak.

It’s not yet clear if Pickett will be able to play in this game. Yellen had the most passing yards by a QB in a Pitt starting debut since John Turman’s 316 vs. Penn State in 1999. Assuming he’s the guy, Yellen will have his work cut out for him again, facing another great defense. The Irish are fourth in the nation in points per game allowed.

Pitt boasts the nation’s top defense against the run. The Panthers are surrendering only 61.5 yards on the ground this season. They will face perhaps their biggest challenge to date in Notre Dame, which averages 261.0 yards rushing to rank seventh nationally. Pitt is averaging 4.83 sacks per game to lead the ACC and rank second in the nation. Defensive ends Patrick Jones II (seven sacks) and Rashad Weaver (4.5) are Pitt’s top sack artists.

Game Trends

  • Fighting Irish are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 road games.
  • Fighting Irish are 6-2 ATS in their last 8 games following a straight up win.
  • Fighting Irish are 6-2-1 ATS in their last 9 games as a road favorite.
  • Panthers are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games as a home underdog.
  • Panthers are 1-3-1 ATS in their last 5 home games.
  • Panthers are 1-4 ATS vs. a team with a winning record.

Expert College Football Prediction

Notre Dame 30, Pittsburgh 20


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