Notre Dame Football: Keys to a Fighting Irish Victory over Pittsburgh in Week 10

Donald WoodFeatured ColumnistOctober 31, 2012

SOUTH BEND, IN - OCTOBER 20:  Head coach Brian Kelly of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish watches as his team takes on the BYU Cougars at Notre Dame Stadium on October 20, 2012 in South Bend, Indiana. Notre Dame defeated BYU 17-14.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

With the No. 3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish sitting at 8-0 on the season, the possibility of an undefeated 2012 is very real. It won’t be easy, though, as the Pittsburgh Panthers travel to South Bend in Week 10.

If the Fighting Irish want to take another step towards history and BCS glory, they must play the style of football that got them this far.

It all starts with the fundamentals.

All of the following reasons have played into Notre Dame’s success this season, and the team will need full concentration on Saturday if the Irish want to keep their perfect season alive.


The Passing Attack

With sophomore Everett Golson rounding into shape as the team’s No. 1 starter, the consistency from the quarterback position is one of the reasons the Fighting Irish have played so well this season.

Not only has Notre Dame kept the same starter for the majority of the season, Golson has done a great job managing the offense and not allowing his inexperience to force him into turnovers.

With just three interceptions all season for the sophomore, the passing attack is not a liability anymore; it has become an asset.


Consistent Running Game

The biggest strength of the Fighting Irish is the team’s running game, led by the tandem of seniors Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood. With 196.5 yards rushing per game this season, the duo has given the passing offense a chance to find out what it was.

Now, with Golson becoming a game manager, the rushing attack has opened up Notre Dame’s air assault, and in turn, the passing attack has opened up even wider running lanes.

With a run-first offensive scheme led by two veterans—complimented by a QB that doesn’t turn the ball over—the team truly has found the perfect balance for the personnel they have.


The Defense

Led by defensive captain and senior linebacker Manti Te'o, the Notre Dame defense has been the most impressive unit in the nation. While everyone expected Alabama to have a tough squad, the Fighting Irish have been flat-out unbelievable.

Notre Dame is holding their opponents to an average of 9.9 points per game—a stat good enough for No. 2 in the country—and the defense has been the difference in every game the Fighting Irish have played in 2012.

While Pittsburgh’s offensive unit isn’t the most impressive, the undefeated Irish can’t take their eyes off the prize. Despite all the hype around Notre Dame, the team will destroy Pitt in Week 10.


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