On Notre Dame's second scoring drive, a 15-play, 80-yard march that required a season-high 6:23 possession time, the Irish ran nine times for 36 yards with a long rush of 10 yards resulting in a Dayne Crist touchdown.
Dayne Crist completed 12 consecutive passes beginning with a quick out to Theo Riddick midway through the first quarter, then didn't throw incomplete again until missing Michael Floyd on consecutive red zone offerings late in the second period.
John Goodman earned his second consecutive start at the X receiver spot and caught the game's first pass. Tai-ler Jones, who started the first three games of the season at the X, made the biggest play of the half, a diving 37-yard post reception to set up an Irish field goal and a 17-3 lead late in the opening stanza.
The Irish employed a regular three-man rotation at both cornerback (Robert Blanton regularly spelling Darrin Walls and Gary Gray) and at safety with Zeke Motta subbing for Jamoris Slaughter. Harrison Smith never left the field for the defense.
Nick Tausch's three first-half kickoffs (and first three kickoffs since the Navy game last season) landed at the 12, 8 and inside the goal line, respectively. The Irish limited Panthers shifty return man Cameron Saddler to a long of 24 yards.
Crist completed 13 passes to seven different receivers. Only one of his first half targets was a running back.
The Irish offensive line committed three penalties (not including a procedure call that was offset by a Panthers offside). Crist was sacked twice, both by Jabaal Sheard, fumbling once inside the Pittsburgh 10-yard line.
Harrison Smith recorded a backline interception for the second consecutive game. He had not intercepted a pass in his first 29 games for the Irish. Smith led the Irish with seven first half tackles.
The Irish limited the Panthers to 32 rushing yards on 12 carries including a 5-carry/1-yard effort in the second period. The Irish rush D did not allow a gain in excess of 12 yards for the 11th consecutive quarter.
Senior walk-on and William & Mary transfer David Ruffer tied teammate Nick Tausch's program record with his 14th consecutive field goal, this time from 32 yards out. Ruffer has not missed a field goal in his Irish career. He missed his first career extra point – a token effort late in a blowout win at Washington in 2008.
Notre Dame's 10 second quarter points were a season-high. The Irish had previously produced 6, 0, 0, 3, and 3 points, respectively over the first five outings.