It was a back and forth game from start to finish Saturday night in the steel city. Notre Dame (7-3) and Pittsburgh (5-4, 2-3 ACC) traded blows all night long, touchdown for touchdown, until the Panthers broke the routine and took control in the fourth quarter. In the end, Pittsburgh scored a huge win to boost their postseason hopes, while crushing any slim hope even the most optimistic Notre Dame fans of returning to a BCS bowl game this January. Pittsburgh topped the visiting Irish 28-21.
Tommy Rees had another Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde type performance. The Fighting Irish quarterback completed just 18 of 38 pass attempts but did so for 318 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He was also intercepted twice and struggled against a team that has a top 20 pass defense this season. His second interception of the game, in the fourth quarter, set Pittsburgh up for a short touchdown run by James Connor to break a 21-21 tie. The Panthers defense later came up with a fourth down stop late in the fourth quarter to seal the deal on a 28-21 victory.
Pittsburgh’s Tom Savage had a much better evening, completing 22 of 35 pass attempts for 243 yards and two touchdowns and zero interceptions. Devin Street had both touchdown catches on his four receptions for 76 yards.
Notre Dame’s offense rolled up 451 yards of offense but three turnovers doomed the Irish’s chances. In the second half Notre Dame’s possessions resulted in a punt, touchdown, interception, interception, punt and a game-deciding turnover on downs. Notre Dame also missed a field goal in the first half and lost a fumble after moving the football 69 yards on a promising drive. the mistakes proved too much to overcome on the road as the Irish lost for the third time this season.
Notre Dame could have made a run for a potential BCS bowl spot with the win, but now the bowl outcome for the Irish appears to be much less rewarding than where this program was a season ago. Pittsburgh’s bowl picture is still in question as well, with the Panthers now needing just one more win to become bowl eligible and to enter the ACC bowl line-up. Pittsburgh has three games left to pick up one win. Two games will come at home, against North Carolina and a fading Miami team. A road trip to Syracuse comes in between the home dates.
A 35-point win on the road in a de facto conference championship game was enough to push Oklahoma past Iowa for the third spot in the latest Associated Press top 25.
Clemson and Alabama retained the top two spots, while a trio of Big Ten teams in Iowa, Michigan State and Ohio State occupied numbers four, five and six. Stanford moved to No. 7 after its last second win over Notre Dame, who tumbled from fourth to ninth. Ohio State jumped from No. 8 to No. 6, while Michigan tumbled to No. 19 after a 42-13 Buckeyes win in Ann Arbor.
Florida State moved into the top 10 after a 27-2 blowout of Florida (who fell from 10th to 18th), while TCU past Baylor after its double overtime slop-fest win on Friday night.
Utah, USC, LSU and Wisconsin moved into the poll, while Washington State, Mississippi State, Toledo and UCLA fell out.
The full rankings:
1. Clemson – 1,511 total points (53 first-place votes)
2. Alabama – 1,469 (8)
3. Oklahoma – 1,367
4. Iowa – 1,345
5. Michigan State – 1,318
6. Ohio State – 1,197
7. Stanford – 1,137
8. North Carolina – 1,085
9. Notre Dame – 1,022
10. Florida State – 951
11. TCU – 927
12. Baylor – 842
13. Northwestern – 711
14. Oklahoma State – 699
15. Oregon – 616
16. Ole Miss – 584
17. Houston – 571
18. Florida – 566
19. Michigan – 518
20. Temple – 269
21. Utah – 244
22. Navy – 206
23. LSU – 199
24. USC – 189
25. Wisconsin – 124
Hey, how about some actual on the field football news?
The latest Amway USA Today Coaches’ Poll was released Sunday afternoon, with the top three remaining entirely unchanged. Oklahoma moved up from fifth to fourth, while Ohio State is now just one spot behind Michigan State at sixth.
Michigan was this week’s biggest loser, falling from 12th to 19th, while USC leapt from 32nd to 24th thanks to a big win over UCLA.
The full poll:
1. Clemson – 1,558 points (52 first-place votes)
2. Alabama – 1,508 (8)
3. Iowa – 1,412 (1)
4. Oklahoma – 1,408
5. Michigan State – 1,350
6. Ohio State – 1,252
7. Stanford – 1,155
8. North Carolina – 1,107
9. Florida State – 1,054
10. Notre Dame – 994
11. TCU – 931
12. Baylor – 836
13. Northwestern – 768
14. Oklahoma State – 688
15. Florida – 655
16. Oregon – 634
17. Ole Miss – 595
18. Houston – 526
19. Michigan – 515
20. Utah – 287
21. Temple – 276
22. Navy – 223
23. LSU – 207
24. USC – 164
25. Wisconsin – 148
Rutgers is reportedly heading into a Black Sunday fire sale, ousting AD Julie Hermann and head coach Kyle Flood on the same day.
The Ausbury Park Press reported early Sunday afternoon Hermann was fired at RU president Robert Barchi‘s house in a meeting that lasted all of 11 minutes. The first female athletics director in Big Ten history, controversy followed Hermann from her first day on campus, whether it was questions of possible mistreatment during her stint at Tennessee’s volleyball coach, to saying “it would be great” if Rutgers’ local paper went under, to making inappropriate statements about Jerry Sandusky to angering former Scarlet Knights player Eric LeGrand.
Shortly after the Hermann news broke, reports emerged stating Flood will follow Hermann out the door.
Flood began his tenure as Rutgers’ coach with a 9-1 start in 2012, but won just 18 of 41 games after that, including four of 16 games since joining the Big Ten.
In addition to stumbling on the field, Flood was suspended three games this season for academic violations and had multiple players suspended for crimes ranging from home invasion to assault.
Six unsuccessful seasons came for Mike London at Virginia came to an end Sunday, as the program announced its head coach had resigned.
From the school’s press release:
(AD Craig) Littlepage met with London this morning to discuss the future of the Virginia football program. At that time, Littlepage and London decided a change in leadership was in the best interests of the program. Littlepage has not specified a time frame for concluding the search, citing the fact that many of the possible candidates will be involved in postseason play. Littlepage will not make further comments until the search has concluded.
Hired away from Richmond after taking the Spiders to the 2008 FCS national championship, London went just 27-46 in his six years in Charlottesville. He appeared in only one bowl game — the 2011 Chick-fil-A Bowl, a 43-24 loss to Auburn — and won four of fewer games in four of his six campaigns.
Virginia considered ousting London after the 2014 season, but the Hoos thought a 5-7 campaign showed enough progress to retain him for 2015. That faith went unrewarded as Virginia went just 4-8 this fall, concluding with a 23-20 loss to Virginia Tech.
“I appreciate the opportunity to have been the head football coach at the University of Virginia and for the relationships that have been formed during my time in Charlottesville that will last for years to come,” London said in a statement. “I took this job to make a profound difference in the lives of young men and to re-establish Virginia football as one of the best programs in the ACC. While we were successful in the development of our players in many areas, I would have liked to have won more games for the student-athletes, coaches, fans and everyone that’s a part of the University of Virginia.”