Stayin Sharp with Evan Sharpley. Irish survive to beat Louisville; hit the road to play Pitt next

Irish survive to beat Louisville; hit the road to play Pitt next

ND extends home winning streak to 22 games

Then No. 4 Notre Dame beat Louisville 12-7 last Saturday, extending its home winning streak to 22 games and its current win streak to a nation's best 10 straight. While that's all great for Notre Dame, it's hard to imagine anybody felt very good about the performance overall -- or, at least you'd think so. But Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly felt differently when interviewed on the field immediately after the win.

"I know it's 12-7, and it's not going to go down as an instant classic, but boy, we did a lot of really good things today," said Kelly. "We scored goals instead of touchdowns. That's probably the takeaway here -- that we got to get better in the red zone."

A win is a win, and the Irish will take it.

A 4-0 start has Notre Dame ranked third in the country, but all of those victories came at home. Things could get tougher with the Irish heading on the road for the first time to face Pittsburgh. You don’t often find the Irish as this slight a favorite. Notre Dame was favored by at least 16 points in each of its first four games this year and has laid less than 10 points just once in its last eight games. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh has been a double-digit home underdog just once since 2017.

While the Fighting Irish had to sweat out a 12-7 victory last week against Louisville, the stat line suggests it should have been a far more comfortable victory. Notre Dame outgained the Cardinals 239-96 on the ground and had 10 more first downs, but red-zone troubles prevented the Irish from opening up a larger lead.

The Irish settled for field goals on their first two trips inside the Cardinals’ 20-yard line, then turned the ball over on a fake field-goal attempt on their third. Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book also struggled passing the ball in the windy conditions, although his 13-yard TD run on third-and-eight put the Irish ahead for good in the third quarter.

Notre Dame’s defense bailed out the offense

Notre Dame’s defense bailed out the offense by holding the Cardinals to their lowest-scoring output in 18 games under head coach Scott Satterfield. It’s nothing new for the Irish, who now rank fourth in the nation in scoring average allowed at just 11.5 points per contest.

Notre Dame has gone UNDER in 13 of its last 20 games overall and has also gone UNDER against five of six ACC opponents since last September.

The Panthers might be college football’s top fade right now

The Panthers might be college football’s top fade right now, covering just one of their last nine games (1-7-1 ATS) dating back to last year. That lone point spread cover came in a 55-0 rout of Austin Peay in their season opener last month, and six of those seven ATS losses came by more than a touchdown.

However, Pittsburgh showed a lot of promising signs in last week’s 31-19 loss at Miami, missing the cover by half a point as an 11.5-point dog. The Panthers moved the ball well throughout, gaining 250 yards through the air and 331 overall, but kicked four field goals from inside the Hurricanes’ 20. They also did it without the services of senior starting quarterback Kenny Pickett, who missed the game with an ankle injury. Pickett’s status for this week was unknown at this time.

Pittsburgh’s defense matches up well against Notre Dame’s run-heavy offense. The Panthers boast the nation’s top rush defense, allowing just 61.5 yards per game on the ground. This game will be won in the trenches. Can the Irish offensive line control the PItt front seven? Defensively, I once again see Notre Dame being able to cover any potential sins that the offense may incur. While I do believe this game could be close, expect the Irish to prevail once again and move to 5-0 on the season.

Stay Sharp!

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