Weekly Matchups: Notre Dame Returns to Action in Clash with Pitt Panthers

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are back following the first of two bye weeks with a confusing opponent on tap for Saturday. That foe is the Pitt Panthers, who enter the contest with a 2-5 record, while the Irish return with a 6-2 mark. The confusion about the Pathers stems from trying to figure out which PItt team will show up.

On Saturday, the Panthers fell 21-17 at Wake Forest, just one week after they jolted the Louisville Cardinals in a 38-21 upset. Louisville was clearly suffering from a hangover of sorts in that contest after springing their own upset of Notre Dame on October 7. The hope is that the Irish have moved on from their invigorating win over the USC Trojans, especially with a trip to Clemson on the horizon on November 4.

Below are some of the key matchups to watch on Saturday:

QB Sam Hartman vs. Pitt Defense

Thanks to the standout Notre Dame defense, Hartman’s quiet night against Southern Cal largely flew under the radar. The veteran threw for two touchdowns and just 126 yards but was able to erase the memory of his rough performance from the week before. The Panthers have done well against the run this year, which may put the onus on Hartman to air it out with his available receiving options.

Pitt’s pass defense struggled in a home loss to North Carolina and then had even more issues in falling to Virginia Tech the following week. Louisville actually had 350 passing yards against them, but that came on 52 pass attempts. Trying to defend against Hartman and his potential targets as well as the Irish running game could make for a long afternoon.

Notre Dame Defense vs. QB Christian Veilleux

It would be hard to top the defensive performance that the Irish delivered against Southern Cal, an effort that likely wrecked the chances of Caleb Williams capturing a second consecutive Heisman. Pitt doesn’t have the firepower that the Trojans possessed, so in theory, this should make for an easier afternoon. The only risk is in the team looking ahead to their Clemson battle.

Veilleux has started the last two games for the Panthers, beginning with the Louisville upset. He replaced former Notre Dame signal caller Phil Jurkovec, who’s struggled in his first season at Pitt. Veilleux originally began at Penn State before heading east for more opportunities. He did make a rookie mistake late in the loss at Wake, something Irish defenders hope will occur more frequently on Saturday.

RB Audric Estime vs. MLB Shayne Simon

Estime remains the central component of the Notre Dame rushing attack, though he has been getting breathers from players such as Jeremiyah Price. Estime hasn’t broken the 100-yard threshold since the Central Michigan win and will be challenged against a Pitt team that’s allowing just 3.1 yards per carry, including just 71 yards total in the Louisville victory.

Simon spent the first four years of his collegiate career with the Irish from 2018 to 2021 before transferring last year. He put up modest numbers at Notre Dame but has been able to make more of a dent since joining the Panthers squad. He knows how to get into opposing backfields, with a trio of sacks and five tackles-for-loss to his credit this season.

CB Cam Hart vs. WR Konata Mumpfield

Mumpfield has one of the better names in college football, but it’s his production that the Panthers like most about him. He leads the team this season with 30 receptions as a slot receiver. He had eight touchdowns in his one year at Akron and is more of a possession wideout who will frequently targeted by Veilleux.

Hart is a veteran in the Irish secondary and was part of the strong defensive effort against USC. He’s another Notre Dame defender who’s contributions may not have been prominent when it comes to statistics. However, his veteran leadership is invaluable to this unit and will help in trying to shut down the Panthers’ passing attack.

TE Mitchell Evans vs. SS Donovan McMillon

Given Hartman’s lower numbers against Southern Cal, it was inevitable that Evans’ own numbers of just two receptions for 13 yards would suffer in the process. Still, his 17 receptions in the three previous contests helped vault him into the reception lead for the Irish, with a number of his grabs coming in clutch situations.

McMillon is the Panthers’ leading tackler with 57 stops on the year. However, it’s usually not a good sign for a team’s defense when a player in the secondary tops the tackles list. Yet, he can deliver hard hits and will usually bring down someone in his sights, though he can be beaten. That could mean another big day for Evans.

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  1. In the 2022 semi-final, turns out TCU cheated the cheaters.
    Fucking brilliant! Even outdoes OC Mike Leach’s 1999 Red River Rivalry scam.
    RIP Mike, you magnificent bastard!

  2. Yes Ohio State has recruited better at the skill positions than Notredame. However, Notredame over the last several years has recruited some really high level receivers that were drafted in the NFL and were top college receivers Will Fuller,Michael Floyd, Golden Tate, TJ Jones Chase Claypool, St Brown,Miles Boykin. Then there have been others who didn’t pan out due to injuries off the field issues poor coaching, not elite quarterbacks etcPlayers such as KevinAustin, Kevin Stepherson, Braden Lenzy. Look at the current roster Greathouse one of most sought ever receivers in the country that Texas,Oklahoma,Alabama wanted badly. Flores, Ohio State was trying to flip him up until signing day. Merriweather rated high 4 star Wwho Washington, Usc,Oregon were all over him.Jayden Thomas,Michigan,Ohio State tried to get. Braylon Jamesone of the fastest players in high school. These guys can’t all be busts. Are they as good as Ohio State or Washington’s receivers? But imo they are good enough to win big with if you had a great offensive mind that would maximize their skills and talent. There is good as Georgia and Michigan’s receivers and both those teams beat Ohio State.

  3. Haven’t seen a pussy dopey dave lock pick of the week
    Make sure to include point spread and no picking both teams!

  4. I have never made it a secret that I have never liked Jack Swarbrick as Notredames athletic director. His moves as far as hiring and firing coaches is poor imo. His scheduling puts Notredame at a competitive disadvantage every year not enough home games, neutral site games, placing of bye weeks, opening on the road at Ohio State,Texas&m, Alabama etc. This is the reason why imo Freeman has to get a transfer portal quarterback. If Notredame opened every year like most national title contenders do, then they can play a young 1st year starting quarterback against a Bowling Green, South. Dakota State,etc win the game and let your quarterback learn and develop. Look at Ohio State, they opened with 3 easy games before they played Notredame. They got their offensive line to gell and got McCord time to develop. Good riddance Jack. Too bad you couldn’t left withyour boy Kelly.

  5. Brian Kelly is making ESPN news again. He has been recommending to the SEC for awhile now that it adopt the use of headset commmunications. The SEC hasn’t done anything about his idea.

    No one but Brian seems to care one fig about headsets….until today, and ESPN: the Michigan scandal.
    ESPN is now in full circle-the-wagons mode to try and spin the Michigan story away from Harbough’s obvious guilt, and make it about the the NCAA’s refusal to prevent it using proven, basic technology that would help eliminate signals — and any temptation to steal them — outright.
    Because dirty scumbag cheaters or not, Michigan WILL go to the CFP. ESPN pays real good money for the right to decide such things.

    But it is fun to recall why Brian Kelly strayed into this whole “we need to go to headsets!” idea to begin with. And it had nothing to do with eliminating cheating.

    It’s because there’s no other coach I’ve ever seen….especially not one paid the kind of money that Shithead makes…that has taken more delay of game penalties, or wasted moe TO’s avoinding them, than Brian Kelly.

    He is simply incapable of figuring out how to get playcall signals delivered in time. And instead of fixing his own stupidity, he wants the rules to change instead.
    Brian Kelly is a bumbling, incompetent fraud.

  6. Offense definitely lacking, haven’t been very impressed with Parker. Notredame probably top 15. Their defense is very good to be able to hold Ohio State and Usc offenses to 17 and 20 points especially considering how unproductive the offense was for great stretches in those games.

  7. Pitt’s two safeties lead the team in tackles. Narduzzi’s Pitt will stack the box to stop NDs run game and try to add to their top 25 sack total. They don’t respect NDs pass game. Why should they ? Need big chunk plays = turning Hartman loose. Will the bye week benefit ND or cause them to start slow and keep Pitt in the game?
    NDs D’ must maintain their excellence

    1. I’m all for turning Hartman loose. 100%.
      ND’s going to a bowl, and as of today, it ain’t a NY6…..so there’s nothing to lose. Let’s see an air show!

      But if he ends up taking a several coverage sacks because receivers don’t get open,
      or if they get multiple INTs because receivers fuck up their read, or don’t create separation, or don’t fight for the ball, don’t whine and moan about the QB.

    1. If Notredame wins only by a field goal then they are not as good as any of us thought. The top teams in the country even the top ten teams would beat Pitt at least by double digits and probably by a lot more.

      1. ND has a top notch defensive unit, and ND specai teams is relevant again, after years of just existing on paper.
        But with a confoundingly cerebral head coach, uncreative, vanilla offensive playcalling, leaky O-line and no ‘go-to’ WRs, ND is not a Top 10 team.

        For this group, winning games is the goal ….. not getting murdered in the playoff.

    1. Living in Ohio, I watch Ohio State every week. It seems on several broadcasts the announcers local and national talk about Ohio State’s passing game. While they praise the quarterback and the elite receivers and rightfully so the thing they also always mention is Day is excellent at scheming receivers open through play calling, formations, motion, spreading teams out creating mismatches all over the field. They said he also uses tempo and runs a lot of rpo’s forcing defenses into binds as far as who to cover. They always seem to have someone open. They also praise Day for his second half adjustments. Yes it is due to the skill, talent of the receivers but it is also due to great coaching. I think Notredame is lacking here. If they had an elite experienced offensive coordinator you would see a difference imo.

      1. Ohio State’s skill position players especially the receivers and quarterbacks have been so superior to Notre Dame’s for the last 15 years. It’s not even close. Would better experienced coaches help? Yes. Would better recruiting at the skill positions help? Yes. Are any of those things going to happen in our lifetime? Doubtful

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