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.
It is no secret that Under Armour is making a nice serious push in acquiring university apparel deals, but the Texas Longhorns is not one it will be likely to whisk away from The Swoosh. According to one report from the Austin American-Statesman, University of Texas officials broke off a meeting with Under Armour and are now expected to stay with Nike moving forward.
The University of Texas has been a partner with Nike since 2000. The contract between the two gives Nike an exclusive window in which it can match or improve on any offers made to the school from rival companies such as Under Armour or Adidas. It is unknown if Under Armour made a formal offer to Texas or how much such an offer could have been valued. What is pretty much commonly known is the Texas brand is still a nice asset in the athletics apparel business, even if the Longhorns are struggling on the football field. Having Texas wear your gear is still a quality investment, which makes Texas a highly sought-after commodity.
Per the American-Statesman report, Texas is expected to sign what would be the biggest deal currently going in collegiate athletics. Considering the handsome deal recently signed between Nike and Michigan, that would mean Texas would be looking forward to more than $169 million from Nike. Michigan signed a 15-year contract valued at $169 million, which will bring an end to its current relationship with Adidas in 2016. As part of the deal, Michigan will become the first football program to wear the Jordan brand logo on its football uniforms. Could Texas be the next? For now that is just something to ponder.
Nike recently lost partners at Arizona State and Miami. Last year Notre Dame began a new partnership with Under Armour, signing a $90 million contract.
The first month of the football season at Rutgers has had its share of off-field stories worth keeping an eye on, so the news on Tuesday that the university has hired Bond, Schoeneck & King, a law firm with a history of working on NCAA violation cases, is certainly a bit of an eye-opener. The NCAA is not, at this time, investigating Rutgers. Instead, this is a move to investigate a pair of concerns related to the football program so that they may be properly reported to the NCAA if and when needed.
“Rutgers has retained outside counsel with expertise in NCAA infractions to help identify any potential rules violations,” Rutgers senior vice president for external affairs Peter McDonough said in a report published by NJ.com. “This is an ongoing and rigorous process that helps us to identify any shortcomings, to self-report them as required by NCAA rules and to remedy them as best practices demand.”
According to the report from NJ.com, Rutgers is focusing on one allegation of an arrested player failing multiple drug tests while on the team and accusations related to the program’s ambassador program. The name of the former player was not identified in the report. The ambassador program has come into scrutiny following the evolving case related to wide receiver Leonte Carroo.
The hired firm tends to serve as a liaison with the NCAA, but Rutgers will be given a final copy of the firm’s investigation for review. If Rutgers determines any NCAA violations were commited as determined by the report, that information will be passed on to the NCAA. The information revealed or uncovered in the firm’s investigation will determine if the NCAA will have to do some of its own digging, or merely adopt the firm’s report at face value and decide on any appropriate punishment from there.