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Notre Dame tries to avoid letdown vs. Pitt

Notre Dame last stood at 8-0 in 2002. The letdown of that team inspires the current Fighting Irish before they take on the struggling Pittsburgh Panthers in South Bend, Ind. on Saturday.

Matt Cashore-US PRESSWIRE

There's no sense reminding Notre Dame they're inching closer toward a national championship with each passing win.

They aren't listening to such talk.

The Fighting Irish take on a struggling Pittsburgh team Saturday, taking their 8-0 record into the game against the Panthers.

Letdown is a concern, as the 2002 Notre Dame squad likely remembers. After their own 8-0 start, they were upset by Boston College, and dropped a close game to USC. Their season ended with a Gator Bowl loss to North Carolina State.

Pitt is dealing with the simple assault and conspiracy charges against running back Ray Graham, wide receiver Devin Street and kick returner Lafayette Pitts in connection with an incident last month involving three other students. Charges were filed Nov. 1, and all three players deny the allegation.

It's just one more thing the 4-4 Panthers needed to worry about this week, but it's not something Notre Dame will focus on. Rather, they'll focus on the targets growing on their backs with each win, and each defensive gem they display. Ranked second in points allowed in the FCS (9.9 per game), Notre Dame is coming off a dominating performance over Oklahoma. They defeated the Sooners 30-13, as Oklahoma entered the game averaging over 30 points per contest.