Irish head coach Tyrone Willingham met with the media after Thursday's practice to talk about the Pitt game on Saturday and the schedule change.
"The whole thing about adjusting schedules is simply to try to make sure it is a level playing field; that when we start our season, other teams start their season, and we are as competitive as we can be," said Willingham. "It says nothing about the opponent because we have respect for all of them. It's just trying to make sure our football team has every chance to be successful on a level playing field."
Two major benefits of moving the Pittsburgh game next season will give the Irish a game before they travel to face one rival, Michigan, and it also gives the Irish the week off before playing their other Rival, USC.
"You know what; I hadn't looked that deep into it," said Willingham when reminded of this. "I'm just trying to worry about week one and week two."
It seems the general pulse is that most Irish fans are not that concerned about Pittsburgh this weekend. Willingham said his team is and will have to play well to win.
"I am always concerned about the attitude and the approach that we have with any football game. If we can take the right attitude on the field and play with the right enthusiasm, hustle, and determination, then I think we have a chance no matter who we play," said Willingham.
"When we look at their offense, I think it is a much more diverse offense than we faced a year ago, and in many regards, a better offense than we faced a year ago. So one, we've got to be able to contain the quarterback, stop the run, not let (Greg) Lee have one of his all-time days and understand that is not just Lee, but it is that group of receivers that they have going. If we can do that, then our defense has a chance to be successful.
"Offensively, we have to come out an keep them off balance, and keeping them off balance, our run game is functioning very well for us and then be timely and efficient with our passing game. If we can do that, we'll be in good position.
"Special teams-wise, we've got to win that battle. We've got to tighten up our special teams, not be as cautious as I think we have played in special teams, but be a little more reckless and get after it. If we make a mistake, we hope it's not a big mistake but really get after them and really play aggressive in that area."
Willingham also said the health of the team is getting better and most of the walking wounded should play on Saturday.
"I think we're in pretty good health," he said. "We have a couple of ankles--Marcus Freeman, who hasn't seen a lot of duty lately, is nursing his ankle. Maurice (Stovall) is nursing his. We have a few more ankles that have been with us all season. They are available to play. Probably the person who was absent that you won't see will probably be Justin Hoskins. To my knowledge, we have had some minor illnesses but I think most people will be available to play."
Notre Dame could really use a breakout game on Saturday—especially on offense. With a good offensive showing, and a week off to prepare for USC, the Irish could finish their season on a high note. We expect to see the Irish play well on Saturday.