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Monday, Feb. 26, 2024
The Observer

History of the matchup: Notre Dame vs. Pitt

Cheerleader Lily Nevin leads the student section in the “Go Irish” chant during the Notre Dame-USC game at Notre Dame Stadium on Oct. 14.

The year was 2012, and the location was Notre Dame Stadium. The Irish, with an 8-0 record, found themselves in double overtime, dangerously close to an upset by unranked Pittsburgh. The game was deadlocked at 23-23. As the Pitt kicker, Kevin Harper, stepped up to take a 33-yard field goal, the outcome hung in the balance. If he successfully sent it through the uprights, the game would conclude with Pitt handing the Irish their first loss of the season. However, fate had other plans. The snap was a bit high, but the hold was good. Unfortunately for Pitt, Harper’s kick narrowly missed wide to the right. Notre Dame would go on to win the game in triple overtime.

But the roles were reversed just one year later when Pitt emerged victorious and the Irish suffered a 28-21 defeat. These moments are just a glimpse of the gut-wrenching experiences in the Notre Dame-Pitt rivalry.

Overall, the rivalry between the Irish and Panthers is lopsided. The Irish currently lead the series 50 to 21 with one tie. Notre Dame has also secured three consecutive wins in the matchup, with the most recent victory occurring in 2020. The last time Pitt emerged victorious was at Heinz Field during the 2013 game.

This weekend, Marcus Freeman and the Irish will host Pat Narduzzi and the Panthers at Notre Dame Stadium. It marks the 73rd meeting between the two teams. The Notre Dame squad is coming off a bye week, while the Panthers are recovering from a loss to Wake Forest. The Irish aim to build on their recent win against USC, while Pitt, determined to upset the Irish, seeks its third win to maintain hopes of bowl eligibility.

Historically, the Irish have the upper hand, but one should never underestimate Pitt’s potential to impact the game. The 2012 game demonstrated this to Irish fans. Additionally, earlier in the season, Pitt upset 18th-ranked Louisville, the same Louisville team that convincingly defeated Notre Dame the previous week. Notre Dame remains the heavy favorite in this matchup, but Pitt could potentially play the spoiler if the Irish let their guard down.