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Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014

Pitt expects Notre Dame to come out throwing

Friday, October 31, 2008

By TOM COYNE

AP Sports Writer

SOUTH BEND -- Pittsburgh coach Dave Wannstedt thinks he knows what's coming from Notre Dame on Saturday.

"Notre Dame may throw it 60 times this week," Wannstedt said.

He's exaggerating, of course, but his statement is based on the success struggling Rutgers had in beating the Panthers 54-34 last week. Mike Teel completed 14 passes: six for touchdowns, two more were for 20 yards or longer and all the rest were for at least 14 yards. This from a quarterback who entered the game with three TD passes and seven interceptions.

"It's like anything in this game. Once you're exposed, at some point you're going to be tested again," Wannstedt said.

Notre Dame offensive coordinator Mike Haywood isn't expecting a similar performance by the Panthers, however, pointing out that no other team has had such success.

The Fighting Irish (5-2) are led by Jimmy Clausen, who is completing 61 percent of his passes, averaging 262 yards a game passing and has thrown for 15 touchdown passes and nine interceptions. Clausen wasn't stellar in last week's 33-7 win over Washington, completing 14-of-26 passes for 201 yards and a touchdown, but set career highs in passing yards in each of his three previous games.

Pitt defensive lineman Greg Romeus said the line has to do a better job against Notre Dame.

"We know that Jimmy Clausen definitely is a threat at the quarterback position, and we have to step up as a D-line and put pressure on him," he said.

Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis is looking for Clausen to avoid the letdown he had in the second quarter against the Huskies, when the Irish managed just one field goal on four possessions. The Irish also are looking to improve on their last in the nation in red-zone offense ranking.

"I think that that's the next step is to make the most of every scoring opportunity, make sure we don't sell ourselves short," Weis said.

The game is important for the both teams as they've been spinning their wheels trying to gain some national respect.

The Irish don't have a win over a ranked opponent since beating No. 19 Penn State the second game of 2006. While the Panthers aren't ranked, they were a week ago. For a team looking to prove itself, that will have to do.

Statistically the Panthers are the best team the Irish have faced.

So far the highest-ranked offense the Irish have faced is No. 64 Michigan State at 366 yards a game and the highest-ranked defense is No. 50 North Carolina at 340 yards. Pitt is 37th in total offense at 396 yards a game and 32nd in total defense at 309 yards.

The Panthers might be without quarterback Bill Stull because of a concussion he suffered against Rutgers. Wannstedt said he probably won't say whether Stull or Pat Bostick, who started eight games last season, will start.

Weis said it doesn't really matter.

"If they put Bostick in there they are going to do the same thing with him," Weis said. "The only thing they might do is they might run it a little more."

That could be a problem for the Irish. Pitt tailback LeSean McCoy has rushed for at least 142 yards in each of his last four games and leads the nation in scoring, averaging two touchdowns a game.

"This guy can run inside and run outside, and they give him an opportunity to do both," Weis said.

The winner of the game becomes bowl eligible, and it might help decide which team plays in the Gator Bowl.

Wannstedt, though, said he's not worried about that.

"We're just focused in on what we have to do to try to get a win," he said.



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