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Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Pittsburgh Panthers Betting Picks and Predictions

23 October 2020

NCAAF Picks Austyn Varney
Date:Saturday, October 24th
Time:3:30 PM ET
Network:ABC
Venue:Heinz Field
Spread:ND -10.5
O/U:42.5

The 4-0 Notre Dame Fighting Irish will go on the road Saturday to face off with the 3-3 Pittsburgh Panthers at 12:00 PM ET in Heinz Field. The Irish are 10.5-point road favorites and we’re expecting a defensive showdown with just a 42.5 over/under. This could very well be the Irish’s biggest test to date and it’ll be intriguing to see how they answer a hard-nosed Pitt defense. They certainly can’t look ahead to Clemson in two weeks or Pittsburgh will upset them. Let’s dive into how this game will go and who will cover the spread. 

When The Notre Dame Fighting Irish Have The Ball

The Fighting Irish have gone 4-0 to start the season and are coming off an extremely strange 12-7 victory over the Louisville Cardinals. After putting up 121 points in their first three games, they were held to just one touchdown against Louisville and the offense looked anemic for a lot of the game. If you’re looking for a silver lining, the defense was amazing. They held Louisville to just 233 yards offensively and they were in the Red Zone just two total times. 

Let’s be real, Senior QB Ian Book hasn’t been very good. He’s thrown for just 714 yards and three touchdowns in four games against some not-so-great defenses. That Louisville defense that just shut Notre Dame down allowed 46 points to Georgia Tech just a week prior. Book somehow threw for just 106 yards without a touchdown. Something is wrong with this Notre Dame offense and they better have figured it out before facing off with a balanced Pittsburgh team that won’t give you an inch. 

The running game has been phenomenal and Kyren Williams on top of the offensive line has been the reason why. He’s rushed for 486 yards and four touchdowns on top of seven catches for another 119 yards. He’s been spelled by Chris Tyree, who’s added 220 yards and two scores. Look for Notre Dame to establish the run with the passing game struggling. The offensive line is full of upperclassman and they are the best bet for this offense to move the ball. 

There’s no lack of talent at receiver for Notre Dame and they have to feel a bit underwhelmed four weeks into the season. Javon McKinley leads the team with 121 receiving yards, but he’s caught just seven balls and isn’t being targeted as often as he should be. Tight end Tommy Tremble is a great pass-catcher and the only guy currently over 10 receptions. Braden Lenzy and Avery Davis start on the outside opposite McKinley and each has caught a touchdown. Book must do a better job of getting these weapons the ball and it won’t be easy against a tough Pittsburgh secondary. 

When The Pittsburgh Panthers Have The Ball

The Panthers have already played six games this season and while it is week eight, there are only a few teams that have played as many. They’ve fallen out of ranked status after three straight losses to Miami, NC State, and Boston College. They fought hard in every game, however, and remain a tough opponent for any team. The Panthers are averaging 288 passing yards per game, which ranks 18th in the country. 

Senior QB Kenny Pickett is an extremely underrated talent and he’s thrown for 1,389 yards and eight scores through six games. He’s also rushed 119 yards and five touchdowns. The Panthers have seemingly turned to the run game in the Red Zone, but Pickett has been phenomenal getting them there with efficiency. The offense goes as he goes.

He has a ton of pass-catching weapons to play with and it starts with Jordan Addison in the slot. He’s caught 38 balls for 444 yards and three touchdowns. DJ Turner has immense upside and he’s caught 19 balls for 332 yards and a score. Shocky Jacques-Louis (17 rec, 233 yards) and Taysir Mack (15 rec, 231 yards) are options three and four, which speaks volumes to the talent on this offense. All of these four guys have NFL potential.

While Pittsburgh has been great through the air, this is still a team that wants to control the game on the ground. Outside of Pickett running the ball a ton in the Red Zone, Vincent Davis has rushed it 83 times for 235 yards and three scores. A.J. Davis and Israel Abanikanda have also rushed for 100+ yards, so the Panthers have four different guys they like to run it with. It’ll be a tough matchup against the Notre Dame defense and everyone on this offense will have to play perfectly if they want any chance at victory. 

Spread Prediction

The Notre Dame offense was terrible against Louisville and they managed just one touchdown. The Pittsburgh Panthers have been great this season on offense and they will have success against a Notre Dame defense that will be looking ahead. I do expect Notre Dame to pull out a close victory, but Pittsburgh can win this game if they’re able to do enough offensively. The Panthers put pressure on opposing offenses and they will put Pittsburgh in a position to keep things close. Give me the Pittsburgh Panthers as my favorite bet in this game. 

The Pick: Pittsburgh +10.5

Best Sportsbooks For This Pick

New JerseyWilliam Hill square logoBet@William Hill
PennsylvaniaSugarHouse online casino square logoBet@SugarHouse
IndianaBetMGM white and gold logo on black backgroundBet@BetMGM
West VirginiaBetMGM white and gold logo on black backgroundBet@BetMGM
ColoradoBetMGM white and gold logo on black backgroundBet@BetMGM
IllinoisBetRivers square logoBet@BetRivers

Total Prediction

This is a tough number and it all comes down to whether or not the Notre Dame offense can figure itself out or not. I don’t expect them to as they couldn’t do it against a Louisville secondary that isn’t very good. Pittsburgh has NFL talent at secondary and Notre Dame won’t put up more than 30 points. Pittsburgh is a solid offense, but they aren’t explosive and they like to run the ball. Update – This number is now down to 42.5. I am all over the over now and expect the number to even out before gametime. The over is now my favorite bet in this game.

The Pick: Over 42.5

Final Score Prediction: Notre Dame 28, Pittsburgh 21

Best Sportsbooks For This Pick

New JerseyWilliam Hill square logoBet@William Hill
PennsylvaniaSugarHouse online casino square logoBet@SugarHouse
IndianaBetMGM white and gold logo on black backgroundBet@BetMGM
West VirginiaBetMGM white and gold logo on black backgroundBet@BetMGM
ColoradoBetMGM white and gold logo on black backgroundBet@BetMGM
IllinoisBetRivers square logoBet@BetRivers
  • Notre Dame is 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games against Pittsburgh.
  • Notre Dame is 1-6 ATS in their last 7 games played in October.
  • The total has gone OVER in 5 of Pittsburgh’s last 7 games.

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