(Photo: Marcus Snowden/Icon Sportswire)
Notre Dame and Pittsburgh have been playing regularly since 1909. In fact in the overall series, that Notre Dame leads 50-21 with one tie, Pitt is Notre Dame’s fifth most played opponent.
Those games been marked by the appearance of some great players. Because for every Johnny Lujack, Paul Horning, Joe Montana, Tim Brown, Manti Te’o and Brady Quinn the Irish have put on the field, Pittsburgh players the likes of Mike Ditka, Hugh Green, Dan Marino, Tony Dorsett, Larry Fitzgerald and Aaron Donald have been there to greet them.
Great players and many great games, including record setting individual performance, upsets and cliffhanger finishes.
Fans of a certain age well remember how Pitt and Tony Dorsett tortured the Irish in the 70’s. In 1975 Dorsett ran for 303 yards in a 34-20 victory, that is still the most rush yards ever, by an ND opponent.
In 1976, for his encore Dorsett did it to the Irish a second time, by notching 181 yards as the Panthers knocked off the Irish en route to an undefeated season and National Championship.
In 2003 ND’s Julius Jones returned Dorsett’s favor with an ND school record 262-yard rushing performance as the Irish upset the Panthers 20-14.
In 2008 the teams matched up in the longest game in ND history and the Panthers drove a nail into the Charlie Weis era with an exhausting 4 overtime victory. Strangely this game was made even longer when the automatic sprinklers went into action on the field during the first overtime.
In 2012 the Irish were flying high and on their way to an undefeated regular season, but during that journey, they found themselves trailing by 14 points in the 4th quarter to a 4-4 Pitt team. Everett Golson however saved the day by engineering a frantic two- touchdown rally in regulation and the Irish escaped with a three-point win in three overtimes.
In 2018 Pittsburgh entered the game at just 3-4 but again came close to ending ND’s roll to an undefeated season when they led the after first scoring in the first quarter until less than 6 minutes remained. The undefeated season though was saved in the closing minutes when Ian Book found Miles Boykin from 35 yards out.
Pittsburgh 2023 enters this week’s game as an underdog with a 2-5 record, but they have something Notre Dame wishes, and that is a win over Louisville. Considering, that and what the colorful history of the 114 year old series has shown, a favored Notre Dame team this week is advised to glance at some history and be prepared for a battle.