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Notre Dame-Pittsburgh Quick Hits

Here's a look at a number of accomplishments, statistics, news and notes from No. 4 Notre Dame's 29-26 victory over Pittsburgh in triple overtime:

Junior receiver T.J. Jones catches on of his five passes against Pitt. He finished with 53 yards and a touchdown.

• In its two previous games against Oklahoma and Brigham Young, Notre Dame was penalized a combined six times for 56 yards. Against Pitt, the Irish were flagged six times for 46 yards.

• Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said time of possession wasn’t all that important throughout his first two seasons. It is this year, with the Irish once again winning that battle against the Panthers. Notre Dame held the ball for 35 minutes and 23 seconds in the victory, including 11:32 in the first quarter alone. Kelly and Co. entered the game Saturday averaging 32:22 of possession time through eight games.

• Notre Dame senior running back Theo Riddick caught his first touchdown pass of the season in his move back to the backfield after two years of lining up as a slot receiver. It was his seventh career scoring reception and it came with 2:11 remaining in regulation to cut the deficit to 20-18. Sophomore quarterback Everett Golson ran for the 2-point conversion to tie the game and force overtime. Riddick finished fifth on the team Saturday with 35 receiving yards and ended the night with 120 all-purpose yards.

• Sophomore defensive end Stephon Tuitt is closing in on Notre Dame’s single-season sacks record established by former Irish star and current New York Giants playmaker Justin Tuck, who registered 13.5 in 2003. Tuitt picked up 1.5 sacks against Pitt (combining with fifth-year senior Kapron Lewis-Moore, senior linebacker Manti Te’o and junior nose guard Louis nix) to improve his total to 10 through nine games. Tuitt is now tied with Bert Berry (1996) and Mike Gann (1984). In all, the Irish defense sacked Panthers quarterback Tino Sunseri five times.

• Junior receiver T.J. Jones has developed into a steady and reliable target for Golson. Jones now leads the team with 31 catches for 383 yards and three touchdowns this season after hauling in five balls for 53 yards and a touchdown against Pitt.

• Good things continue to happen for Notre Dame when it wins the rushing battle. For the 40th time in their last 42 games, the Irish put up more yards than their opponent. Kelly now has a 157-23-1 career record when his squads outgain the opposition on the ground.

• Despite Pitt senior running back Ray Graham exploding for 177 yards and a touchdown, the Irish have still only allowed two rushing scores this season, which is the lowest total in the Football Bowl Subdivision. Notre Dame didn’t allow its first rushing touchdown until the eighth game of the year on the road against Oklahoma. Notre Dame has now given up 11 rushing touchdowns over its last 27 contests (dating back to the Tulsa game in 2010). Over the last 31 games, only five opposing running backs have registered touchdowns.

• Irish opponents have combined for just 29 first downs in the fourth quarter and 25 in the 25 in the second quarter. Against Pitt, Notre Dame gave up just 19 total yards and one first down from the fourth quarter on.

• Kelly has a 38-14-2 career record in games decided by three points or fewer. He’s now 55-14 in the month of November in his career and 21-2 since 2006 when the calendar moves to the 11th month. When his teams have surrendered 19 points or fewer, he’s 127-6-1. Since the 2001 season, Kelly has amassed the third-most number of wins among active FBS head coaches. He is 119-34 since then, following only Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops (125-31) and Texas’ Mack Brown (121-30).

• Since making the jump from Division II Grand Valley State to the FBS, Kelly has produced at all three coaching stops by his third season at each program. Central Michigan finished 3-9 the season before Kelly took over in 2004. In 2006, the Chippewas produced a 9-4 record. Cincinnati was 7-5 in 2005, but Kelly led the Bearcats to a 12-0 mark in 2009. The Fighting Irish were 6-6 in Charlie Weis’ last season at the helm in 2009, and are now 9-0 so far in Kelly’s third year.

• Notre Dame lost the first two games of the 2011 campaign, but have since rattled off victories in 17 of its last 20 games. The program’s nine-game winning streak this year is the best start to a season since 1993, when it got off to a 10-0 start and lost the next game to by two points to Boston College. Notre Dame has started 9-0 just 16 times in school history, and the other 15 occasions led to nine undefeated seasons and eight national titles. Kelly is the fifth Irish head coach to start 9-0, joining Knute Rockne (five times), Frank Leahy (four), Ara Parseghian (three) and Lou Holtz (three).

• Notre Dame has played in 26 games since the start of the 2009 season that were decided by seven points or fewer. Of the team’s last 21 defeats, 15 were decided by seven points ore fewer and seven were determined by a field goal or less.

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