Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 24, 2020

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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40 OCT. 24, 2020 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY LOU SOMOGYI CLOSE CALLS Through the years, the Pittsburgh Panthers have consistently demon- strated a proclivity — much like a Boston College, Michigan State or Purdue — to achieve peak perfor- mance against the Fighting Irish. Since the 1950s, Pitt joins USC and Michigan State as the lone football teams to defeat Notre Dame in every new decade. From shocking a Frank Leahy team in 1952 (22-19) that would fin- ish No. 3 in the country, to knocking out head coach Brian Kelly's Fighting Irish from major bowl contention in 2013 (28-21), the Panthers have a long lineage of playing the spoiler role. In the 12 meetings between the Fighting Irish and Pitt since 2002, all but two were determined by one score, basically coming down to the final series of the game to determine the outcome. • In 2008, the longest game in Notre Dame history (in actual time played on the field) resulted in a four-overtime 36-33 conquest by the Panthers. • A year later in 2009, Pitt won for the fourth time in the last eight meet- ings between the two schools, 27-22. • In Kelly's first season at Notre Dame in 2010, the Irish fended off Pitt for a 23-17 victory. • A late drive at Heinz Field in 2011 that featured the Tommy Rees to Tyler Eifert passing combination enabled Notre Dame to emerge with a 15-12 victory. • Following an upset win at No. 8 Oklahoma in 2012, the 8-0 Irish went through a classic letdown while fall- ing behind the 4-4 Panthers 20-6 en- tering the fourth quarter, and needed an officiating snafu in one overtime to survive a three-overtime 29-26 conquest. • After losing at Navy in 2013, Pitt responded two weeks later with a 28-21 win at home versus Notre Dame. • The six straight one-score mar- gins in this series ended at Heinz Field on Nov. 7, 2015, when Notre Dame built a 42-17 lead before Pitt tallied two touchdowns in the final five minutes to make the final score a more respectable looking 42-30. Irish quarterback DeShone Kizer was 19-of-26 passing for 262 yards with five touchdowns, and he ran for the sixth. Three of his scoring tosses were to Will Fuller (seven catches for 152 yards), while fresh- man Josh Adams' 20 carries netted 147 yards. • However, during Notre Dame's 12-0 regular-season run to the Col- lege Football Playoff in 2018, the Pan- thers provided the biggest scare to the Irish once again in South Bend, just as they did in 2012. Notre Dame trailed 7-6 at halftime and 14-12 entering the fourth quar- ter, while Pitt kept the Irish ground attack at bay, limiting it to 80 yards. Quarterback Ian Book responded by completing 13 of 14 pass attempts in the second half, highlighted by the perfectly placed 35-yard deep ball for a touchdown to Miles Boykin with 5:43 remaining in what would be a 19-14 triumph. The Panthers left that game 3-4, but went on to win the Coastal Divi- sion of the ACC for the right to play Clemson in the ACC championship game, won 42-10 by the eventual national-champion Tigers. Pitt regularly "hangs around" in most contests, too. Last year, it was 6-3 in games decided by seven points (one possession) or less. This year in three consecutive games from Sept. 26-Oct. 10, it eked out a 23-20 win versus Louisville, lost an 11th-hour heartbreaker to North Carolina State (30-29) and then fell in overtime to Boston College (31-30) because of a mixed extra point. History demonstrates the need to be wary of the Panthers, especially because … GIANT SLAYERS In some ways, sixth-year Pitt head GAME PREVIEW: PITTSBURGH Top STorylineS Quarterback Ian Book's 35-yard touchdown connection with wide receiver Miles Boykin with 5:43 remaining in the game helped Notre Dame escape with a 19-14 win over Pitt in 2018. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA

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