Frankie V’s Prediction: Notre Dame v. Pitt ’18

Notre Dame returns home for their second last home game of the season on Saturday to host the unranked Pitt Panthers hoping to keep their undefeated season and playoff dreams in tact.  It wasn’t so long ago the Irish were in a similar situation against the Panthers and needed a thriller to keep an undefeated season alive.  Will the Irish keep a goose egg in the loss column or will the Irish get all they can handle again from a Pitt team looking to ruin Notre Dame’s season? Let’s dig in.

What Worries Me this Week

A let down in a classic trap game

Notre Dame is coming off of two emotional games in back to back wins with their rivalry game beat down of Stanford and then the trip last week to Lane Stadium and the overmatched Hokies.  That is a lot to get up for in back to back weeks and this game has classic trap game written all over it with a bye week on tap for next week.

Brian Kelly and his staff have no doubt preached this to their team this week, but it is still something to look out for this week as Notre Dame looks to stay undefeated.  Remember, in 2012 undefeated Notre Dame hosted Pitt fresh off a 31-13 win over Oklahoma and needed triple overtime and a healthy does of luck to stay unbeaten.


Notre Dame is in the midst of midterms this week as well and at a University where academics are taken seriously, that is always a worry.  Historically, Notre Dame has had some less than inspiring performances during midterms week.  Kelly embraced the challenge of midterms earlier this week when he addressed the media, but after getting home late last weekend, then going through midterms this week, and preparing for Pitt this week, it would be easy to see a scenario in which the Irish looked a bit sluggish at least early.

What Doesn’t Worry Me this Week

Pitt’s running game

Pitt is going to want to run the football – it’s their identity.  Notre Dame is pretty good at stopping the run though and while the Irish defense did let up a long run up the middle of their defense in back to back weekends, I am not worried about Notre Dame’s ability to stop the run this weekend.

Dexter Williams continuing his hot streak

Dexter Williams has been a man on a mission the last two weeks after serving his four game suspension.  That will continue this weekend as Williams will once again run for over 150 yards as Notre Dame waits for the rest of its backfield to get healthy. Williams is averaging just under 170 yards a game and he’s done that against Stanford and Virginia Tech.  He is about to face some much easier defenses to run on and the only thing that might prevent him from topping 1,000 yards even with missing four games is Jafar Armstrong cutting into his carries too much when he returns from injury following the bye.

Ian Book doing the same

For a brief second most Notre Dame fans had to think that we were about to see Ian Book come back down to earth last week after his second quarter interception.  Book bounced back in a huge way though and ended up throwing for another 271 and two touchdowns.  He had the chance for an 5 or 6 touchdown actually but he misfired on a number of deep throws.

Book will continue his hot streak on Saturday and could top 300 yards with another 3 TDs before giving way to Phil Jurkovec again just as he did three weeks ago in his first start of the season.

Players to Watch this Week

  • Daelin Hayes – Coming off the stinger it will be interesting to see how much he plays, if at all.  Kelly said he is cleared to play but didn’t explicitly say he will play.
  • Khalid Kareem – He’s been a bit banged up all year and is playing on a bit of a balky ankle.  The bye week will do him good, but until then watch how that ankle holds up this weekend.
  • Michael Young – One of these weeks Young is going to explode.  He had the big screen against Wake Forest and has been quiet since.  I think he makes some noise again this week.
  • Donte Vaughn – With Troy Pride Jr banged up with an ankle injury as well, Vaughn figures to play more.  Look for Pitt to target him since he will be filling in from time to time for Pride.
  • Ian Book – If he starts connecting on some of those deep balls, this offense will become deadly.  Expect to see Chip Long dial up a few early.
  • Julian Okwara – He is back after missing the 2nd half last week because of a targeting call.  Look for him to come back with avengence this weekend.
  • Alohi Gilman – It’s been a few weeks since Gilman has been involved in a big time negative play.  He’s due for one this weekend.

How’d I do Last Week?

Not too bad.  I had Notre Dame winning and covering the spread (-6.5) and that is exactly what happen.  I just didn’t give the Irish enough credit as the Irish ended up winning by 22 points (45-23) and I had them only winning by 10 (31-21).

Prediction Time

In case you haven’t figured out by now, there isn’t a whole lot that worries me this week and I expect the Irish to have another strong performance as they head into the bye week.  With midterms this week and coming off the big road win, they might start just a bit slow, but this one should a comfortable win and give Kelly and staff an opportunity to get some youngsters some playing time.  Ian Book throws for another 3 touchdowns, Dexter Williams runs for 2, and the Irish score on defense again this week.

Notre Dame 45, Pitt 10

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  1. ND needs more consistency at the WR position. Boykin’s not going to bail them out every week. Also, Pittsburgh always plays ND tough but their defense is no where as good as Clemson or Alabama. ND needs to execute better. BK says he wants this team to dominate. Took a step back.

  2. SEVEN. Georgia is gone.
    It was a beautiful day in the stadium…quiet crowd though, except on third and fourth downs.
    We had a lot of rubber legs and tired arms out there today…no doubt. I could never coach football, never have, but I have coached wrestling, and I know a tired athlete when I see one. And I saw a lot of them today.
    Pitt executed its game plan excellently in quarter one…awesome ball control “O”…but after the first possession, Pitt’s “O” never scored again. Chalk up a win to the ND defense, even though the great pass rush and the great closing speed by the linebackers was absent. Also, chalk up the win to Yoon hitting two field goals and our opponent missing two…similar to the Citrus Bowl (a problem Coach Ogeron wisely solved by the way, in the offseason).
    Congratulations to LSU, Michigan State, and (maybe) Michigan. Is it getting tough enough out there yet in the Big Ten and the SEC? Congratulations to Pitt too, for a typical Pitt/ND game.
    Take a week guys, you’ve earned it.

    BGC ’77 ’82

    1. I would agree, this was my annual pilgrimage to SB and you could sort of feel the lack of energy in the tailgate lots early in the day. I disagree that UGA is done, they lost one last year as well.

    2. I would agree, this was my annual pilgrimage to SB and you could sort of feel the lack of energy at the tailgate early in the day. I disagree about UGA, they lost one last year as well.

      1. Ron, I don’t mean that they are absolutely out of the playoffs – I meant only that (1) They are out of our way and (2) Their fate is no longer totally in there own hands with this asinine 4 team playoff format…as will ours be out of our hands if we let someone beat us.
        I’d love to see the wreckage of the 4 team playoff this year…and if Michigan finishes 12-1, Ohio State finishes 11-1, ND finishes 12-0, UCF finishes 13-0, Bama and Clemson go undefeated, and Texas finishes 12-1…a very possible scenario (IMO)…IT WILL BE THE END! Can’t come soon enough for me.

        BGC ’77 ’82

  3. I think it is more than Brian Kelly when you compare those elite teams with Notredame. I feel like my friends and a lot of people on this board do when they say unless Notredame lowers their academic standards brings in jucos oversigns players Notredame will never be a perinneal national powerhouse.

  4. And yours “Burgy”? Pure banality! You have to be a loser to make little “Davey boy” seem remotely relevant.

    Stay classy, you little ….!

  5. my only criticism of Kelly as a coach is that he would rather throw three incompletions then run three times for a first down. the reason the offense was so effective in book’s first two starts was the balance of the offense. last week the offense bogged down after a good start when nd started throwing on almost every down. today they come out throwing on every play with not so good results. I wonder if Kelly throwing on every play makes book think he has to win the game by himself. today book made so good runs early. if book can gain yardage on the defense shouldn’t the running backs be able to gain yardage too?

    1. Why don’t you put Brandon Wimbush in 4th and short situations. Dumb play call on 4th and 1. Defense played well enough to win and the offense did just enough. Win and move on is the name of the game!!

  6. Simple.

    Seven-and-a-half minute TD drive.

    No FG unless it’s a chip-shot with 0 seconds on clock when the ball goes through the uprights.


  7. Why not just punt the ball a mile high?

    Whatever happened to the coffin corner?

    This guy is so inconsistent?

  8. Pitt online has been tackling our line all day. Finally called for one. Time to take the lead for keeps. Thank you Mr. Kessman

  9. A touchdown. What hath God wrought. Now the REAL Notre Dame team will show its face. Still don’t have running game. But pressures and sacks coming on Pickett will save face for the Irish.

  10. If Pitt scores another TD it’s a two-score game!

    Instead of kicking the extra point and a Pitt TD keeps it a one score game.

    Go for two only at the end of the game, if needed.

    BK and Mike Tomlin are pathetic on challenges, time management, and making decisions to go for two and chase points. I’m serious, have these two ever been seen together because I think they are one and the same!

  11. Time to pull Book, he’s not feeling it.

    Two ways to go. Put Wimbush in with his experience and play for now. Put in Jurko and play for the future. Regardless, Book was never a long-term answer.

    I say play for the future and see what you have in Jurko going forward.

    1. “Tommy,”

      I wonder if Bama doesn’t know about or read its press clippings. Doesn’t seem to affect them.

      Coaching and players make all the difference, not whether they read the newspapers!

    2. Never be overconfident! Why would anyone believe overconfidence is good? It’s killed ND too many times over the last three decades!

      Hear Saban and you’d think Bama never played a good game. Like Lou did, Saban makes every opponent the 79 Steelers or 72 Dolphins.

      Great coaches and great players wins more often than not.

      1. Meant to say you’d think Bama never played a bad team to hear Saban talk about his team’s opponents.

  12. Way to start second half, Irish! STs strike again!!!

    This is not looking good, lads.

    On the bright side, we’ll see “Davey” back soon!

  13. I’m sorry to say Pitt has us doped out. Esteemed Frankie and Greg have been warning of that all week. After we get ball back to open 2nd half, we need a signature run by Dexter or we could be in for a long day. SFR, How about Rudy doing an impersonation.

    1. GK,

      Rudy can’t do a darned thing for this team!

      This team is just over-rated, that’s all. Like so many other ND teams in the last three decades!

      This program is going nowhere near a NC as things stand in college football today.

      ND loses two-seasons’ worth of wins for a minor, self-reported violation involving just two football players. UNC has an entire bogus academic program for athletes and nothing happens.

      ND can’t compete with the SEC or other major programs that don’t care about academics and recruit who they want, whenever they want. Saban can even grey-shirt players he has so many too pick from!

      ND is a living fossil, a relic of the past that can’t compete at the elite level due to its requirement. God bless the Irish, good for them. But don’t think ND will ever be great again is this current climate.

  14. 21-point dogs is just about right for an upset of ND in S. Bend given BK’s history in those games and ND’s history in the last almost 30 years.

    1. Jeff:

      You just said: “Maybe Tim Tebow was right in his assessment of ND Football.”

      Should we just relax or worry that Tebow is right about ND football?!

    1. GK,

      Time to stop living in the past!

      BK needs to give that talk and make the adjustments. Knute isn’t coming back.

  15. I’m giddy, 3 points mustered on the board. Book reverting back to His intramural days. Pa. Boy Jurkovec may need to be called on to save the day. Seems Panthers have figured Book from the start.

  16. If Book is going to be running more than throwing, then put in Wimbush.

    Sadly, I think this is ND under BK. A quite-never-read- to-play-for-the-NC team. In a good year, the Irish might go 10-2 under BK.

    Lose this one and I see 10-2 or 9-3 and another Citrus Bowl.

  17. Does ND have WRs playing today?!

    This is a real shit show in the making, lads.

    This is what happens when you don’t have a legit top tier QB starting. It makes any D look like the 85 Bears.

    Wasn’t Pitt’s D supposed to be the pitts?! I guess not.

  18. Take the sack, throw it away, tuck and run…. anything but theow it across your body as a right handed quarterback.grrrrrrrr

  19. Fertita just cost us a TD and time of possession!

    This will be a long day for ND!

    This D would get steamrolled by Bama.

  20. Looks like Book could use some of that Gatorade and chicken noodle soup. He’s been hitting the books to much.

  21. One excuse is as good as the next, using midterms as an excuse, but if you “PLAY LIKE A CHAMPION” then there’s no doubt in my mind the Irish will cruise

  22. This talk about midterm exams brings back the memory of Lou Holtz using it as an excuse when Notredame blew a 16 point lead against Stanford at halftime and lost 33 to 16. Holtz said we are a tired football team.We just had midterm exams and it simply drained us. His comments were told to a couple of Stanford players who responded hey tell Mr Holtz we take midterm exams at Stanford too.

  23. Wow, how many major programs worry about midterm exams being a factor in an upcoming game?
    Not many. That’s why you have to love ND. Has there ever been any thought given to that week being a bye week?

      1. Because at ND they need a higher GPA to maintain eligibility than that required by any law or the NCAA.

        BGC ’77 ’82

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