Game Prediction

Saturday is another big day for the Irish football team. They get another crack at beating a very good Pitt team, and the chance to earn some national respect. Will the Irish win on Saturday?

Saturday's game presents another stepping stone for this Irish team. Win and they'll be back in the hunt for being ranked a top 25 team. Lose and it will be more of the same speak about the Irish….."they haven't beaten a good team all season."

It's hard to argue with that statement, it really is. Now the Irish have another chance to shut some people up. Will they take advantage of it?

Notre Dame offense versus the Pitt defense

Once again, the key here is going to be Notre Dame's offense line. This unit has played pretty well all season, but they have had their hiccups along the way. Pitt has an impressive front four, and a group of pass rushers that can get after the quarterback.

Unfortunately, last week was not an impressive showing by the offensive line in pass protection, and quarterback Jimmy Clausen's play suffered because of it. I expect both to bounce back in this game. I see this team gaining more and more confidence every week. I think you'll see the O-line show up and smack some people around. When they do, the Irish are pretty tough offensively.

How to attack? I think the Irish will have to throw to run in this game. I think you'll see the ND staff come out firing with their best weapons early in the game—Clausen, Golden Tate and Mike Floyd. This is a game where a guy like James Aldridge can really shine late in the game. If the Irish can build a lead, I'd love to see Aldridge pound away at Pitt to close out the game. I think he's earned the carries lately.

Notre Dame defense versus the Pitt offense

This will be another interesting battle—Pitt's running game versus the Irish run defense. Did the Irish improve that much over one week, or was it a very poor Washington offense they faced? I think we all know that it was a very poor Washington offense, but I did see a different Irish defense in that game.

One thing the Irish showed last Saturday that will be extremely important in this game is that they were back to being sound tacklers after a week of fundamentals. They're going to need to be solid tacklers again in this game to slow down LeSean McCoy.

Speaking of McCoy, I believe he's one of the best ( if not the best) running backs in college football. This is not going to be an easy task of slowing him down.

That's the match up this week….the Irish front seven (eight) against McCoy and the Pitt offensive line. If Notre Dame can slow him down early, and get some stops, they'll have a good chance to win on Saturday.

The "X" Factor

This week's "X" factor is interesting. Both head coaches had their coming out party against each other four years ago and Charlie Weis won convincingly. This is a big game for Dave Wannstedt as well in the eyes of his superiors as well as the eyes of Pitt fans. Both coaches really need this win to validate the progress they've made in their programs.

The Irish are coming off an impressive win against Washington. Pitt is coming off a head-scratching loss against a below average Rutgers team. The first quarter of this game very well might decide the entire game. It will be very important for the Irish to play well in the first quarter because Pitt is a talented team. They will be very tough to beat if they play well and have some success early.

Mike Frank Prediction: I think this one is going to very close. I've watched Pitt a number of times and they have some firepower on offense, and they have some playmakers on defense. This will be a great test to the heart of the Irish. This would be a great time to see the Irish play four full quarters of football. They may need to if they're going to win on Saturday.

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