NCAA Week 10 wrap: Notre Dame Irish survive scare against Pittsburgh

Landry Jones. (Reuters)

Landry Jones. (Reuters)

SCOTT MITCHELL, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:22 AM ET

Call it the luck of the Irish.

Call it a comeback.

Call it whatever you want.

Either way, No. 3 Notre Dame is still unbeaten after outlasting the unranked Pittsburgh Panthers 29-26 in three overtimes.

The Irish are 9-0 for the first time since 1993, but it wasn’t easy Saturday.

Down 20-12 at home to the Panthers (4-5) with less than three minutes to play, it looked as if Notre Dame’s stay among college football’s unbeaten teams was going to end.

From there, it was all Everett Golson and a little bit of luck.

The freshman quarterback found running back Theo Riddick for a five-yard TD to make it 20-18 with 2:11 to play in the game.

On the two-point attempt, Golson rolled right and decided to take it himself, diving into the endzone to tie the game and stave off what would have been a horrific loss in front of the home fans at Notre Dame Stadium.

After Panthers kicker Kevin Harper missed a 33-yard field-goal attempt wide right for the win in the second overtime, the Fighting Irish followed up Harper’s 44-yard field goal in the third overtime with a Golson one-yard TD plunge for the win.

Disaster averted.

With Connecticut, Rutgers and South Florida left on the schedule, the chances of Brian Kelly’s program locking up a berth in a BCS game continue to improve.

Golson, who was replaced briefly by Tommy Rees midway through the game, finished 23-of-42 for 227 yards with two TDs through the air and an interception. He also had 15 carries for 74 yards and the winning major.

But the escape job probably left Irish fans feeling a wee bit nervous.

They lost the turnover battle 3-0, gave up more points in a game than they had all year, and Pitt running back Ray Graham ripped off 172 yards rushing, including a 16-yard TD romp.

Graham is in hot legal water these days for assault and conspiracy after allegedly attacking a guy on the street with a couple of fellow Panthers, but the Pitt running back ran hot against Notre Dame. He improved his rushing numbers during his career to more than 3,000 yards Saturday to sit fourth on the program’s list. The legendary Tony Dorsett tops the Pitt rushing yards list. ‘Ironhead’ Craig Heyward, another NFL stalwart, is No. 3 on that ladder.

SHORT YARDAGE

Who’d have thunk out of the top-four ranked BCS Standings teams it’d be No. 2 Kansas State with the easiest of days playing high-octane Oklahoma State, but the Wildcats ran away with a 44-30 win over the No. 24 Cowboys. Meanwhile, No. 1 Alabama was in trouble until late in a 21-17 edge of No. 5 LSU, No. 3 Notre Dame barely won and No. 4 Oregon had No. 17 USC nipping at their heels all night long … Just who was that running with authority in the backfield for Michigan? Nope, not Denard Robinson. The once-Heisman hopeful sat out the Wolverines 35-13 win over Minnesota with a wonky elbow, which brought on junior QB Devin Gardner. He looked a home with a 12-of-18, 234-yard day … How about Penn State’s Bill O’Brien for coach of the year? Not sure if the Jerry Sandusky sanctions prevent him from winning such an award, but once again O’Brien had the Nittany Lions doing themselves proud with a 34-9 road win in Purdue, thanks to 321 yards from pivot Matt McGloin. The tarnished program has a gritty team that’s forever under the microscope but boasting a 6-3 record. Good on you, Bill.

FINAL DRIVE

Apparently, No. 7 Florida’s still a little fragile after last week’s key loss to the Georgia Bulldogs. The Gators just barely scraped past miserable Missou in The Swamp, winning 14-7, thanks mostly to Tigers QB James Franklin tossing four interceptions, including a couple right into the hands of awaiting Florida defenders … No. 10 Louisville finally proved they belong in the ranks of the undefeated after running its record to 9-0 with a dominating win over Temple 45-17. Young and talented Cardinal quarterback Teddy Bridgewater put together a sizzling performance, going 19-of-28 for 324 yards, five touchdowns and zero interceptions … Just when you’ve written off both Oklahoma and Texas, both come back with big ‘W’s. After getting danced on by the visiting Irish last week, the No. 12 Sooners went on the road and beat Iowa State 35-20. Meanwhile, the No. 23 Longhorns, who barely scraped by weak-sister Kansas last week, walked into Lubbock, Texas, and took out No. 18 Texas Tech 31-22. The best part if you’re a Texas fan was QB David Ash looked like a legit Big 12 pivot with 264 yards and three touchdowns … Best reason to watch college football No. 346 — the two-point conversion attempt to beat a team when the one-point convert would tie the score. That was TCU doing it against No. 21 West Virginia in the second overtime for a 39-38 win. The Mountaineers’ once-Heisman hopeful (ya, I said it) Geno Smith watched helplessly from the sidelines as the Horned Frogs pulled out the winning two-point toss from Trevone Boykin to Josh Boyce on the game’s final play. Geno, your Heisman bid ends here with your team sporting a pedestrian 5-3 record. Shades of Boise State beating the Sooners in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl — still the most exciting game ever.

scott.mitchell@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter: @SUNMitchell


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