Look, if you're expecting to go off and mention how I (and three of our other guys) went Babe Ruth and called the upset in our predictions post on Friday, that won't happen. Okay, well, I'll at least be tactful about it.
If you're a Pitt fan, the team's 28-21 win really isn't surprising. I said this in my Q&A with SB Nation's Notre Dame blog, One Foot Down, but THIS IS JUST WHAT PITT DOES. They beat teams they shouldn't and will occasionally lose to ones they should. It's a love hate relationship with Pitt - the lows seem to occur more than the highs but when Pitt pulls off a game like this, it just feels kind of worth it.
I said all along that I gave Pitt a chance to win because I thought they would have a chance against Notre Dame's defensive line. Irish fans predictably scoffed at that notion but the fact is that all year they've been banged up, haven't gotten a lot of pressure on opposing quarterbacks and had a very average run defense.
Statistically, anyway. We still had to see for ourselves, but we pretty much saw that on Saturday. Pitt didn't have a field day running the ball, mind you, but they did enough to get by with James Conner and Isaac Bennett running for nearly 100 yards and a couple of touchdowns. Tom Savage was protected most of the night and had time to throw. And, as I said several times this week, when he has time throw, he's not a bad quarterback. There were the errant passes, of course, but like the running backs Savage (22-35 for 243 yards and two touchdowns) did enough to win.
So yeah, if you happen to know any Notre Dame fans (and you almost certainly do with a fan base made up of 99% non-alumni), brace yourself. You're likely to hear about the ejection of Stephon Tuitt for his targeting hit earlier in the game.
First things first, I didn't agree with the call. Savage's helmet was lowered and I'm not sure Tuitt was trying to make contact with the helmets there. But with the rule as it is, you're going to see plays like that where guys will get ejected. Did Tuitt's ejection make things easier for Pitt? Absolutely. Keep this in mind, though. The offensive line was holding up reasonably before he was lost for the game and Savage had a good amount of protection up until the ejection. That's not to say they could have kept it up since it was early, but the game plan was clear, anyway - Pitt was making quick passes and getting the ball out of Savage's hand earlier.
No reasonable Pitt fan would argue that his loss didn't matter. We all know it did. But, similarly, to act as if it single-handedly derailed the Irish simply isn't true. That would be Tommy Rees and his two late picks to Ray Vinopal.
About that aforementioned game plan, too. I've crushed the coaching staff for not making enough changes to the offensive playcalling. If we're going to criticize them for that, it's only fair to give credit where it's due - and Paul Chryst and the staff deserve that. Instead of a predictable, conservative offense, Pitt actually did some fairly innovative (for Pitt, anyway) things. They rolled out Tom Savage to keep the Irish defenders off of him. They pitched the ball out to running backs. Boyd got the ball on a run. Most importantly, though, Pitt dumped the ball off with quick passes and found receivers. All of that gave the offense some life so hopefully we see more of it.
I also think it's fair to point out that Pitt seemed to get a few more calls via the referees. That's not to say all of the calls went their way. Aaron Donald seemed to be held a few times and there was even one that came at an inopportune time that they replayed and Herbstreit called it out. But I do think Pitt was the beneficiary of a few calls. Unfortunately, you're likely to hear about that from friends that happen to be Notre Dame fans - despite those same people likely insisting that K'Waun Williams' pass interference call was the right one last year or that there actually weren't two Irish players wearing No. 2 in last year's win over Pitt.
Just deal with it.
But hey, I'll take it. It was a good game to have after the Navy and Georgia Tech losses and gets Pitt back to a good chance to make a bowl game. As usual, we're left to wonder what could have been this season with the Navy loss in particular, but there's still time to put together a decent year. Seven years was pretty much the benchmark this season and that's still a possibility at this point.