5. Notre Dame's Passing Attack vs. The Panther's Secondary:
This is stating the obvious but we would appear insane if we didn't write about it. The Panthers are still licking their wounds from last week's debacle vs. Rutgers. Can they put it together against the Irish and Jimmy Clausen this week? Where a lot appears to be riding on the secondary, I would say that the front 7 are the key to this matchup. The main question being: Can the Panther's get pressure? Pitt is 12th in the country in sacks, yet last week were bottled up by the Rutgers defense most of the day. Look for Coach Bennet to turn up the pressure and blitz more this week forcing Clausen into quick decisions and throwing when he isn't comfortable. It will be interesting to see how the Panthers respond, and how short their memories are.
4. The Panther's reshuffled O-Line vs the Irish Rush Defense:
It's no secret the Irish have been absolutely shredded by some teams this year on the ground (see Javon Ringer). McCoy is the most dyanmic back they have faced this year and if the Panthers can open up some holes, look for a big day. McCoy doesn't need the Red Seas to be parted, he just needs a crack of daylight. The main question here will be how well does the retooled Panthers line gel and how quickly do they gel. Pitt has been one of the top 5 teams when it comes to penalty yards and penalties this year. With a new center and new guard I would expect a few more flags thrown their way today (especially playing in South Bend).
3. The Panther's reshuffled O-Line vs. the Blitz Happy Irish:
Notre Dame is not shy when it comes to attacking the QB. I would look for the heat to be turned up another notch today, especially if Bostick is at QB. A lot of this matchup will depend upon the meshing of the Offensive line once again. If the pass protection is not there, today may be a chance to see Greg Cross running some series to help liven up and diversify an offense that could rely heavily on the run. If Billy Stull is at QB I would look for a lot of quick reads and short passes to neutralize the rush.
2. The Panther's screen game vs. the Blitz Happy Irish:
The way to offset the aggressive schemes of the Irish is to run a fair share of screens to keep the defense honest. Screen passes are a pain to any blitzing defense because it slows players down. McCoy has proven to be flat out scary when catching the ball in the open field. I would expect a good dose of screens today to help get McCoy the ball in space. If the Irish can't play their responsibilities this could be a favorable matchup.
1. The Pitt Players Post game interviews:
Will anyone go Tyler Palko on NBC and drop the big "F" Bomb? We can only hope because that would mean a victory!