PITTSBURGH – Ian Book went through for 312 yards and three touchdowns – two of which were long catch-and-runs for the transfer of Ben Skowronek – and Notre Dame # 3 struck Pittsburgh 45-3 on Saturday.
A week after his way past Louisville, Notre Dame (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.
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.
Notre Dame effectively put an end to any hope Pitt – who has made a name for himself as an 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 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.
Notre Dame: The Irish could hardly afford to go wrong with a showdown against Clemson # 1 on November 7th. They almost had one against Louisville but reacted strongly to the streets against a team starting the nation’s eighth defense. Book was only fired twice, using his legs when necessary and avoiding mistakes. If he can make it one more time on the road at Georgia Tech next week, there is a potential game of the year on the first Saturday in November in South Bend.
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. And the idea of wearing their alternative gray jerseys, revealed last month, was strange given the adversary and the widespread decision a few years ago to revert to the yellow and blue concept that characterized the program in the glory days of the 1970s and 80s.
EFFECT ON REQUEST
The Irish are not going anywhere after having dealt with Pitt with ease.
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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