1.) A win is a win ... Granted, Saturday's performance wasn't pretty, but it was a win. The Irish committed another two turnovers and the offense seemed to be confused for large time periods during the game. But Brian Kelly was able to figure out the Pittsburgh defense and relay that information to Tommy Rees, who once again battled through adversity, finishing the contest with a game-winning touchdown pass to Tyler Eifert. If the Irish had lost, pretty much all BCS aspirations would have been lost and the program would have started 1-3 for the second consecutive season. All teams have off-days and it was good to see the Irish take down a BCS team (and thereby potentially save their season, when they had an off day). 2.) Defense will continue to carry this team ... For the foreseeable future, it is clear that the Irish will go as far as their defense takes them. Notre Dame's defense was once again very impressive against the Panthers. The lone touchdown came on a drive that should have ended after a three and out (except after a running into the kicker penalty resulted in an automatic first down for Pittsburgh). Additionally, one of the field goals came after an Irish turnover on their own side of the field, even though the Irish defense was able to push the Panthers back five yards. Putting that all together the Irish defense could have very easily given up only three points to the Panthers at home. Also of note for the defense, the Irish recorded six sacks on the day from five different players, demonstrating their control of the Panthers offense. 3.) Tyler Eifert has all the tools ... Before Saturday, Tommy Rees had a propensity to target stud wide receiver Michael Floyd. But when the Irish needed a late score to go ahead against the Panthers, it was Eifert that Rees locked in on. That combination recorded both the six-yard touchdown and the subsequent two-point conversion. Eifert registered eight catches for 75 yards against Pittsburgh and showed on the touchdown drive that he has the makings of yet another great Irish tight end. Also worth noting ... * The 79-yard touchdown run by Jonas Gray was his first ever collegiate touchdown. * That touchdown run was the longest since 2000 when Terrance Howard had an 80-yard touchdown run at West Virginia.
* The Irish defense has now given up only one offensive touchdown or less in seven of their last eight games.
* Notre Dame has now defeated Pittsburgh in 14 of the last 18 meetings of the series.
* The Irish are now 3-1 in Heinz Field and 17-6-2 overall in current NFL stadiums.
* The Irish have dominated their opposition in the first quarter in games in the total yards column. The Irish have outgained their opponents by a 464-156 margin.
- Andrew Bartolini ('13)