The Irish will storm into Heinz field on Saturday with their chests pumped up behind the confidence of new Irish head coach Charlie Weis.
Weis has appeared confident all week about his team's chances for a victory despite having to replace eight starters from a disappointing 2004 defense.
Does Weis know something the experts don't?
The Irish are three-point underdogs heading into this game, but many Irish fans are picking a double-digit victory. If nothing else, Weis has made believers out of the Irish faithful.
But does Weis know something we do not?
The Irish do have essentially 11 starters back on offense from a team that scored 38 points and amassed 438 yards against the Pitt defense in 2004. We're almost certain the Irish and Weis will have success against the Pitt defense again in 2005
But the offense wasn't the problem in 2004. 41 points, five passing touchdowns and the 432 yards the Irish surrendered were the problem.
What has changed since then? Plenty, which makes this game difficult to pick.
Pitt obviously has some weakness on the interior defensive line that Weis will try to expose, but Wannstedt knows this and I'm sure he's planning to counteract that. 8-9 men in the box? Daring Notre Dame to throw? Does this sound familiar?
Sure Weis will try to pound the Pitt defense with a healthy diet of Darius Walker, Travis Thomas and Rashon Powers-Neal, but will they have any luck with eight or nine men in the box? They haven't previously as evidence of their No. 85 ranking in rushing in 2004.
Will Wannstedt sell out to stop the run and put his solid corners on an island daring the Irish to throw? I would, and I believe that's Pitt's best chance to win the game—stopping the Irish rushing game.
The Irish might win the battle up front on offense, but that still doesn't stop Palko from scoring, and the Irish had a hard time stopping him in 2004.
Do the Irish have the pass rushers to disrupt Palko's rhythm? Can they defend the pass? We'll have to wait and see.
I think a lot of Irish fans have dipped their cup into the Kool-aid and are lapping it up at a record pace. It remains to be seen if the Charlie's batch is bitter or sweet. I'm going to guess the latter in this game, but it certainly wouldn't surprise me to see the Irish struggle in this game nonetheless.
Mike Frank Prediction: The Irish show flashes of a potent passing game early to soften up the middle, and then it's run, run, run....
Notre Dame 38 Pitt 24