(Photo: Mark Albert/ Icon Sportswire)
Notre Dame has been playing Pitt regularly since 1909, they are ND’s 5th most played opponent in history. ND leads the all-time series 50-21 with 1 tie.
9-4 a year ago in 2023 Pitt has struggled to 2-5. They lost to ND opponent Wake Forest last week on a last second TD pass 21-17. Their wins are over Wofford and interestingly, Louisville. Pitt dealt the Cardinals their one and only defeat two weeks ago the week after ND’s loss to Louisville. In that 38-21 victory the Panthers lost nearly every statistical category, but they were plus three on turnovers and stopped Louisville on four out of four, fourth down plays.
The Panthers have a ND flavor to their roster with three former ND players. Linebacker Shayne Simon is a team captain, running back C’Bo Flemister is their leading rusher, and QB Phil Jurkovec is on the roster.
In fact Jurkovec was the starter through the first five games but was ineffective. He was replaced the week before the Louisville game by 6-4, 220 pound sophomore, Christian Veilleux (pronounced VAY-er). Veilleux has been a bit of an upgrade but is only completing 53% of his passes on 98 attempts good for 647 yards and 5 TDs with 2 interceptions. Veilleux has not been much of a running threat with 26 yards on 17 carries. The Pitt offensive line has given up 14 sacks.
Overall Pitt is 113th nationally in total offense and is averaging 24.6 points per game. Flemister has 282 yards on 68 carries with 2 TDs for the 112th ranked rushing offense. Last week against Wake, Flemister had a nice day with 105 yards on 24 carries, but only managed 27 yards on 12 carries against Louisville. Keep in mind that Louisville held Audric Estime to by far his lowest production of the year at 20 yards on 10 carries.
Pittsburgh’s passing game boasts two solid wideouts and a productive tight end. Konata Mumpfield has been the possession guy with 30 catches for 347 yards, and Bub Means, who is more of an upfield threat with 326 yards on 20 catches. Each has scored three TDs. 6-5, tight end Gavin Bartholomew has 310 yards on 17 catches.
Defensively Pittsburgh has put up solid numbers. 26th nationally in total defense, they allow just 321.7 yards per game. Veteran corners M.J. Devonshire and Marquis Williams are one of the top combinations in the ACC. They each have notched 6 career interceptions. Another senior corner, A.J. Woods is also having a good year and has two sacks this season, watch for him on corner blitzes. Overall, the Pitt defense has an impressive 22 sacks on the season. Shayne Simon, in his second year since transfering from ND, is tied for the team lead with 3.
Pitt is one of the most penalized teams in the nation, they are 121st at 71.7 yards per game.
Drawing on past experience, it feels like Pat Narduzzi may have ND right where he wants them. He comes into ND stadium with a 2-5 team that statistically is at a big disadvantage, particularly on offense. But we’ve seen this before. Narduzzi’s teams play physical and almost inevitably goes toe to toe with whomever they play. Last year ND came out of it’s bye week and played a solid game against an excellent BYU team. That is a good sign. The bye week this year should be particularly helpful towards healing Jayden Thomas and Jaden Greathouse’s hamstring injuries. That should help get the Irish offense back on track.
Notre Dame is a 20.5 point favorite and the over/under is 45.5.
The Fighting Irish Preview Pick: ND 31 Pittsburgh 10