Matt Cashore-US PRESSWIRE
The Fighting Irish hope to extend their national championship run Saturday afternoon against the Panthers.
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish will have to avoid succumbing to a letdown if they are to keep their national championship ambitions alive this week against the Pitt Panthers. Notre Dame is currently a 16.5-point favorite over the Panthers.
The Irish are 8-0 for the first time since 2002 and leapfrogged Oregon into the third spot in the BCS standings after last weekend's victory against the Oklahoma Sooners. The Irish are led by their defense, which ranks second nationally in points allowed and has not allowed more than 17 points to any team so far. If the Irish do have a weakness, it is at quarterback, where sophomore Everett Golson has struggled at times and split snaps with junior Tommy Rees. Golson was solid against Oklahoma, though, throwing for 177 yards and running for another 64 and a touchdown.
After starting its season with a loss to FCS powerhouse Youngstown State, Pitt has righted the ship and now stands at 4-4 overall. First-year head coach Paul Chryst, known for his rushing attacks while offensive coordinator at Wisconsin, has relied largely on the passing game this season. Quarterback Tino Sunseri has completed 69 percent of his pass attempts, averaging 275 yards per game through the air. While the Panthers' defensive statistics are largely within the top half of FBS football, they have come against one of the weakest schedules in college football.
Kickoff is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. CT at Notre Dame Stadium. NBC will handle television coverage.