This wasn't a great Notre Dame team. In fact, the Irish were only favored by 4 points. But this still counts as a big win for the program for many reasons. It helps the confidence of the team, it helps Pitt's reputation nationally, and they won in front of a of big time recruits. Some other thoughts:
1. First I have to single out the offensive line. I have been as brutal to them as they've been to the game of football, but tonight they played much better. Paul Chryst and Joe Rudolph also helped the offense with more intelligent play calling.
2. Tom Savage was much more confident since he knew he would not be running for his life all night. He responded by completing 22 of 35 passes for 243 yards. He also threw 2 touchdowns and did not throw an interception.
3. For some strange reason Isaac Bennett still gets more carries than James Conner even though Conner is clearly the more talented back. Not that Bennett was horrible. He had 58 yards on 17 carries, a 3.4 average. He also caught 2 passes for 17 yards. Conner had 10 carries for 35 yards, a 3.5 average. He also had two bullish touchdown runs and 2 catches for 20 yards. Despite a similar average, his runs were more impressive. If he carried 25 times I could see him wearing down Notre Dame's defense, but that wasn't going to happen on this night because he didn't get that carries.
4. Tyler Boyd again had a very good game with 8 catches and 85 yards through the air, plus an 8-yard run. Devin Street had 4 catches for 76 yards, but two went for touchdowns, including an impressive 63-yarder where he can ran most of the way. The tight ends and fullbacks also chipped in with 6 catches as Manasseh Garner and Scott Orndoff had 2, and J.P. Holtz and Jaymar Parrish added one each.
5. The special teams were very hit and miss. On returns Notre Dame either got around midfield or didn't get to the 20-yard line. Trenton Coles was especially impressive on kickoff coverage. Matt Yoklic was once again awful in the punting department.
6. Defensively, with Aaron Donald double and triple teamed you would think another lineman or a linebacker would have a big game but they didn't. The only player who did have a big game was the usually suspect safety Ray Vinopal, who despite one awful pass interference penalty, had two huge interceptions. Anthony Gonzalez only had his name called once but it was a big pass breakup to put the game away.
7. Notre Dame had 451 total yards to Pitt's 356.
Bottom line, this won't mean much if Pitt loses the rest of the games, and that's not out of the question. On the other hand, it could be a springboard to a nice close to the season, and maybe even a strong end to this recruiting class and a strong start to future classes.