Notre Dame got its season back on the right track with a dominant win over USC two weeks ago. Can a struggling Pitt team present any kind of a challenge for the Fighting Irish? Let’s dive into the odds and best bets for Saturday’s matchup.
Pittsburgh vs. Notre Dame Prediction & Best Bet
Which Pitt team will show up on Saturday? The Panthers still only have one FBS win this season, but it came two weeks ago. The Panthers narrowly lost at Wake Forest last weekend, albeit against an emergency quarterback. Do they have a chance at keeping this game within three touchdowns?
Right now, it’s hard to bet against Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish seemed to find their mojo against USC, handling business on both sides of the ball, and Sam Hartman should be able to rebuild some of his momentum against a weak Pitt pass defense. The Panthers rely on pressuring quarterbacks, but Notre Dame has yet to allow a sack at home this season. If that unit is held in check, it’s tough to see Pitt’s defense rising to the occasion elsewhere.
The other X-factor might be the play of Chris Veilleux, who hasn’t thrown an interception since becoming the Panthers’ full-time starter. Still, if a strong performance against Wake Forest wasn’t enough, what will the result be when he faces a Notre Dame defense that totally threw Caleb Williams off his game? This could be a day of regression for Veilleux, and that spells bad news for Pitt. Notre Dame is the better bet to win big.
Pittsburgh vs. Notre Dame Prediction & Best Bet:
Pittsburgh vs. Notre Dame Betting Odds
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Notre Dame is a heavy 20.5-point home favorite, entering at -1400 on the moneyline. The over/under is 44.5 points.
Pitt won an ACC title two years ago, but the Panthers have just one FCS win this season – a victory over Louisville, which defeated Notre Dame the previous week. Does that mean the Panthers have a chance to keep this game close?
Pittsburgh vs. Notre Dame Matchups
Here are the key matchups that could decide Saturday’s game between Pittsburgh and Notre Dame.
Sam Hartman vs. Pitt Pass Defense
Pitt has struggled on both sides of the ball this season, and a leaky secondary has been a major factor. The Panthers are allowing 7.8 yards per pass attempt, which ranks 11th among 14 ACC teams. While that unit has taken steps in the right direction recently, notching four interceptions in Pitt’s last two games, it could open the door for a low-turnover quarterback like Hartman to find a rhythm.
The biggest question on Saturday is which Hartman will take the field for Notre Dame. He threw for more than 10 yards per attempt in each of his first four games this season but saw that number dip below 7.5 yards per attempt in each of his last four – even in the blowout win over USC, when the defense did most of the work.
Whether the Hartman of early in the season shows up might determine whether this is a resounding win or a narrower one for the Fighting Irish.
Pitt Pass-Rush vs. Notre Dame Offensive Line
Pitt has made up for its troubles in the secondary by pressuring quarterbacks, and that’s partly why the defense has been more successful over the last two weeks.
The Panthers are tied for third in the ACC with 2.8 sacks per game, and it’s truly a collection of players getting the job done. No Pitt defender has more than three sacks this season, but 12 have recorded a sack and six different players have multiple sacks. Can Notre Dame’s offensive line contain this group?
It’s been a hit-or-miss unit, as Hartman was sacked five times against Louisville and four times against NC State. However, he hasn’t been sacked a single time at home this season. With big Joe Alt on the line, that trend indicates the Fighting Irish should be able to neutralize Pitt’s pass rush.