Pittsburgh Panthers at Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, IN
Saturday, October 9, 2010, 3:30 pm Eastern, TV: NBC
Opening Line: Notre Dame -6
Current Line: Notre Dame -6
Opening Total: 50
Current Total: 49 1/2
Money Line: Notre Dame -245 / Pitt +205
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Both of these teams are off to disappointing starts, and need a victory badly. Pitt is 2-2 with losses to highly ranked Utah and Miami-FL, while Notre Dame is 2-3 with losses to three ranked teams Stanford, Michigan, and Michigan St. It is difficult to know what to make of these two teams. Neither has defeated a really good team yet. The Panthers have done well recently in road games played on grass recently going 8-1 against the spread in those games. Notre Dame has underwhelmed as a favorite going 2-9 ATS in the last two seasons. Also Notre Dame has not fared well at home when playing back-to back games going 0-7 ATS over the last two seasons.
Pittsburgh has been disappointing on offense this season. They were expected to be one of the most explosive offenses in the country led by halfback Dion Lewis but are only averaging 353 yards and 27 points a game. Lewis injured his shoulder and did not play in the team’s 44-17 rout of Florida International. Back-up Ray Graham ran for 277 yards on 29 carries and 3 touchdowns, but coach Dave Wannstedt said that Lewis will be the starter if healthy. Both Graham and Lewis are expected to play and will test the Notre Dame defense who has struggled to stop the run at times this season. Quarterback Tino Sunsieri hasn’t clicked yet at the position, throwing for 172 yards a game with only 4 touchdowns and two interceptions. Obviously, the strength of the team is the running game but the Panthers rush becoming one-dimensional if the passing game does not keep defenses honest. The Panthers are committing almost 10 penalties and 2 turnovers a game, which have contributed to the poor start. The Panthers have also only converted 36% of third downs, going 18/50. Defensively, the Panthers are giving up 342 yards a game along with forcing 7 turnovers and 10 sacks.
Notre Dame held Boston College to 5 yards rushing last week in the Irish’s 31-13 win on the road. They are still giving up almost 153 yards a game on the ground. In fact the Irish are giving up over 400 yards a game. The Irish have forced 13 sacks and 8 turnovers. Notre Dame’s biggest problem has been turnovers as they have 12 already this season. On offense Dayne Crist has been good behind center so far. He has thrown for 1,358 yards, 10 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. Like many young quarterbacks Crist has the tendency to try and force balls in. Crist mainly throws to 5 different people led my Michael Floyd who has 28 catches for 408 yards and 2 touchdowns. The running game has been solid but not great, led by Armando Allen Jr. who has 392 yards on 80 carries and 2 touchdowns. The Irish will be without center Dan Wenger who is out the rest of the season.
Notre Dame Coach is very familiar with Pittsburgh’s offense having coached at Cincinnati for several seasons. The key will be if Notre Dame can stop the run like they did against BC last week. The Irish are not only worried about Lewis and Graham, but fullback Henry Hynoski as well. Hynoski only has 28 rushing yards and 35 receiving yards but his one of the best blockers in the country, and opens the lanes for the running backs.
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