Following Flynt - Tradition Tuesday

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snowusf1.jpg Like Michigan State, Pittsburgh is one of the many regular opponents on the Notre Dame schedule. Pittsburgh is Notre Dame's fifth-most common opponent, behind only Navy, Purdue, USC and Michigan State.

Saturday will mark the 67th meeting between the Irish and the Panthers. Notre Dame currently holds a commanding 45-20-1 lead, including 13 victories in the last 17 games. Of the 45 victories, 25 have occurred away from Notre Dame Stadium.

The series began in 1909 at Forbes Field, with the Irish taking the opener, 6-0. Two years later, the teams played to a scoreless battle, the lone tie in series history. After another Irish victory in 1912, the young series took a hiatus until 1930, when the teams began an eight-year stretch of consecutive meetings.

The teams met again from 1943-54 and every year from 1956-78. They played several times in 1980's and early 1990's, and every season since 1996, with the exception of 1998, 2000, 2006 and 2007.

In 1999, Notre Dame visited the Steel City for the final game at Pitt Stadium. The following year, the Panthers played at Three Rivers Stadium, before moving to their current home, Heinz Field in 2001.

Four of the 10 largest victory margins in Notre Dame history have come at the Panthers' expense, most recently a 60-6 crushing in 1996. Perhaps Notre Dame's biggest win in the series, however, came in 1982, when an unranked Irish team went to Pittsburgh and came away with a 31-16 victory over Dan Marino and the Panthers.

On the way to a national championship in 1988, Notre Dame survived a scare against Pittsburgh. The Irish won 30-20, thanks in part to a couple of costly red zone fumbles by the Panthers.

The following year, Lou Holtz's top-ranked Notre Dame team faced No. 7 Pittsburgh in Notre Dame Stadium. This time, it was all Irish, as they rolled to a 45-7 victory.

In 2005 - and Charlie Weis's first game as head coach - Notre Dame outscored Pittsburgh 28-3 in the second quarter on its way to a 42-21 rout. The game featured the first touchdown catch of Jeff Samardzija's career, a spectacular diving grab in the second quarter.

During the 2009 season, Notre Dame's last visit to Heinz Field, the Irish lost a close one to the eighth-ranked Panthers. After trailing by 18 points in the fourth quarter, two Golden Tate touchdowns put the Irish within reach, but the rally ultimately fell short and the Panthers held on for a 27-22 win.

Though the Notre Dame-Pittsburgh series does not draw the national attention of Notre Dame-USC or have the intensity of Notre Dame-Michigan, the tradition between the Irish and the Panthers is storied. Dating back more than 100 years, this match-up is an important, and perhaps under-appreciated part of Notre Dame's rich football history.

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