I have watched Pitt play only once this year. I watched the entire Pitt/Syracuse game. QB Rob Rutherford showed great poise in the pocket and throws a very nice deep ball. He has a strong arm and is very accurate throwing the football. He had an eternity plus a day to complete his passes. I am not sure if the Pitt offensive line is that good or the Syracuse defense is that bad. It's probably a little bit of both.
Pitt does an excellent job of creating turnovers. They have a total of 21 in 6 games. They have created 20 of those turnovers against some pretty bad teams however. Bad teams become poor because they make mistakes. Pitt created one turnover in their most difficult game this year in a loss to Texas A&M. Pitt is averaging about 2 turnovers a game as well.
Pitt rushed for 56 yards against Texas A&M on 39 carries. A&M's defense would be comparable to Notre Dame's in that they stop the run and get after the QB. While watching the Syracuse game, I was not impressed with their running game. They did rush for 180 yards in that game but they didn't look very dominating doing it. Their offense looked very good throwing the football however. The big key here will be to put pressure on Rutherford. I do believe Notre Dame will shut down their rushing attack and the effectiveness of their passing game will be determined by pressure from the Notre Dame defensive line.
The Syracuse defense was put in difficult situations throughout the game because their offense turned the ball over 4 times. The Syracuse defense was on the field most of the game. Syracuse could not keep up with the big wide receivers of Pitt and Rutherford had all day to find them.
Roosevelt Bynes appears to be their deep threat. He is listed at 6-1 and has 4.4 speed. Lamar Slade is a 6-4 205 pound guy who they use a lot and Larry Fitzgerlad is a freshman wide receiver that is listed as 6-3 210 pounds that has made an early impact. Fitzgerald looks to have the most talent and Rutherford has found him often recently. Rutherford throws to all of them and they could pose a problem for the ND corners. None possess the talent that Charles Rogers has but all are solid receivers.
Their two good corners and their linebackers lead the Pitt defense. If they are weak anywhere, it's at safety because they are young. Their defensive line is solid. I am not sure this defense is as good as they are ranked however. They have played this well because they have face the #115, #114, #112, #73, #68 and #18 ranked offenses in the country. The #18 ranked offense is Toledo (who do the play). The #68 is A&M and their ranking has sky rocketed the last two weeks with their change in offensive coordinators. The good news for Pitt is they face the #104 ranked offense for total yards in Notre Dame. The ND defense has faced the #85, #57, #52, #24 and #23 ranked offenses.
The Pitt offense has faced the #113, #102, #80, #65, #64 and #18-ranked defense. #18 is Texas A&M where they managed 12 points at home. The Notre Dame offense has faced the #74, #52, #40, #33 and #29 defenses this year. I don't think the ND offense is that good but I do feel they can move the ball on this team.
Notre Dame will stop the run in this game. The key to the game will be to keep the Pitt wide receivers in front of them and to put pressure on Rutherford. On offense, they just need to protect the ball and create some drives. I expect Notre Dame to move the ball on Pitt but they will need to score at least two touchdowns on offense to beat this team. The Notre Dame defense should be able to hold Pitt to 17 points. They could hold them to less if they can stop the run early and get to Rutherford.
I expect the Notre Dame offense to look much like it looked against Stanford. They will run the offense regardless of whom they face. They are going to have to complete some passes to open up the running game. They are going to have to have some long, sustained drives and they will need to score. Pitt plays a very aggressive style of defense so some misdirection and some plays out in the flat will keep their linebackers from blitzing. Notre Dame must throw to their backs now and in the future to keep the linebackers from blitzing so much.
If Notre Dame can limit the number of turnovers and penalties, they should win this game. The ND offense should do enough to win. The defense should play as well as they have all year. Pitt has a very good team and Notre Dame could easily lose this game by making mistakes. They will have to play very well to beat Pitt. Notre Dame 24 Pitt 13
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