No. Three Notre Dame rides huge performs to rout of Pitt

PITTSBURGH – Brian Kelly understands human nature. And the longtime Notre Dame coach is fine with his players looking forward to a showdown with Clemson in two weeks, provided they play like a team that can keep up with the Tigers in the meantime.

“We have to improve our game if we have the chance to achieve our goal of winning a championship,” said Kelly.

Look at the received message.

Ian Book went through for 312 yards and three touchdowns – two of which were long catch-and-runs to complete Ben Skowronek’s transfer – as the Fighting Irish rolled past Pittsburgh 45-3 on Saturday.

A week after the fight at Louisville, Notre Dame No. 3 (5-0, 4-0, Atlantic Coast Conference) had no such problems when he lost the Panthers (3-4, 2-4) for the fourth time in a row. Book hit Skowronek for a 34 yard score on Fighting Irish’s first possession and Pitt, who played for a second straight week without injured senior quarterback Kenny Pickett, simply couldn’t keep up.

Skowronek, a transfer from the northwest, has built a close relationship with Book since arriving on campus. He could see that Book was frustrated after the sluggish performance against the Cardinals. Book responded by getting past Jimmy Clausen and current offensive coordinator Tommy Rees to finish second on the school’s career touchdown pass list (63) behind Brady Quinn, 95.

“It has paid off for him,” Skowronek said of Book. “He had a damn good game … he’s a damn good football player and he’s a winner.”

One who had a lot of help.

Notre Dame’s massive offensive line held up against one of the best pass-rushing teams in the nation, and when Book got time, he had no problem finding teammates who were open in the field. The book averaged 19.5 meters per deal and often just had to flip the ball up and let its playmakers do the rest. He linked up with Skowronek for a 73-yard score in the second quarter, with the 6-foot-3 Skowronek doing most of the job as he skipped 5-9 Pitt defender Marquis Williams for the ball and then in the end zone sprinted to make it 14-3.

The Fighting Irish effectively put an end to any hope Pitt – who has made a name for himself as the occasional giant killer in recent years – might have had by the end of the second quarter. Linebacker Bo Bauer’s first career choice resulted in a 2-yard touchdown from Kyren Williams, who rose to 21-3 at 1:29 in the first half. Three Pitt games went nowhere and Irish defender Isaiah Foskey dashed in untouched to block Kirk Christodoulous Kahn. Foskey chased the ball into the end zone to pick it up and get things out of reach at 28-3.

Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi described Notre Dame as “a good team we’ve seen on the pitch in six years”.

“I thought we’d better stack up,” said Narduzzi.

Not as much.

Freshman quarterback Joey Yellen fought in place of Pickett on his second start. Yellen, who played well in a loss to Miami last week, only made 10 of 21 passes for 107 yards and three interceptions before being drawn in the third quarter in favor of Davis Beville. Beville was only one series ahead of Nick Patti in the fourth.

TAKE AWAY

Notre Dame: Book used his legs when needed – he ran 40 yards before being taken out with the game in hand late in the third quarter – avoiding mistakes. If he can make it one more time on the streets at Georgia Tech next week, Clemson is facing a potential game of the year.

Pitt: The Panthers entered October undefeated. They’ll end it with their first loss in four games since 2007. The game in progress and offensive line continue to be a problem, practically forcing the quarterback – whoever it is – to carry the burden. Yellen may be down the street, but he’s not there yet.

EFFECT ON REQUEST

The Irish are not going anywhere after having dealt with Pitt with ease.

WHO IS THIS?

Pitt’s decision to revert to the gold-and-blue color scheme, reminiscent of the program’s heyday in the 1970s and 1980s, was welcomed when it was unveiled in 2019. It was all the more strange that the Panthers opted for an alternative gray uniform, which they wore for the first time earlier this season. Given how one-sided things got, it might not be a terrible thing for Pitt to look unrecognizable on the border.

NEXT

Notre Dame: travels to Georgia Tech next Saturday. The Irish won their last meeting with the Yellow Jackets 30-22 in 2015.

Pitt: The Panthers will be out next week and will visit Florida on November 7th.

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