After that opener, the Irish went on a three-game losing streak. In a 28-24 loss to Michigan, Dayne Crist completed 13-of-25 passes for 277 yards and two touchdowns, including an interception. The following week in a loss to Michigan State, Crist had season-highs, completing 32-of-55 passes for 369 yards, four touchdowns and an interception, but it wasn't enough in a three-point loss to Michigan State.
The last time the Irish were at home, Stanford came in with an impressive 37-14 win. Crist put together another 300-yard outing, but with just one touchdown and an interception. Last week, Crist threw for over 200 yards, two touchdowns and he also ran for a score. Most importantly, he got the Irish over a three-game losing streak.
Aside from the numbers, the thing Crist wants to do more than anything, is just win.
"Winning is like a feeling that you can't describe," Crist said. "It's like nothing else. It was just great seeing the excitement in the locker room again and seeing guys happy and enjoying a win. It makes everything all week long just a whole lot better, and guys' overall wellness is just better. You just enjoy winning and you don't want to lose that feeling."
Through five games, Crist's 1,358 passing yards are the most by a Notre Dame quarterback, in his first five career starts.
"Their quarterback is playing well, he's thrown ten touchdowns with four interceptions," Pitt head coach Dave Wannstedt said. "They're obviously a spread team, not a drop back team. I think that Dayne Crist has done a really great job at making that transition. Part of the spread offense, when you have one back, is always having the threat of a quarterback run game. It's a quarterback that can move and do some things athletically. It's just part of the system that they run."
When Kelly was at Cincinnati, Tony Pike went through a similar progression. In 2008, Pike put up big numbers in his first career start, but it wasn't until his fourth or fifth game, that he was untouchable. Pike completed 20-of-24 passes for 241 yards and three touchdowns in his first career start, a 45-20 win over Miami.
Pike missed the following two starts against Marshall and Rutgers--a 13-10 win the Bearcats eeked out. When Pike returned, Cincinnati was embarrassed by UConn 40-16. In that game, Pike completed just 10-of-27 passes, with three interceptions. It was after that game--a start and a win over then No. 24 South Florida--that Pike turned the corner. He threw for 281 yards against the Bulls, then took the Bearcats into Morgantown, where they knocked off then No. 20 West Virginia. Though he didn't throw for any scores, he ran for a four-yard touchdown at the end of the first half that put the Bearcats up 20-7 before the half, a lead they held onto.
The most important thing for Pike back then, was that he was instrumental to Cincinnati winning. Crist is doing the same thing at Notre Dame now. Coming off his performance at Boston College last week, he appears to be helping the Irish in a similar way.
"When you go back and look at Cincinnati two years , three years ago, you can see the progression as a quarterback," Wannstedt said. "The (Notre Dame) receivers can handle more. The passing game increased. They added to it. They're a faster team than what they've been in the last couple years."