Although undefeated in four games, ninth-ranked Pittsburgh found itself in the novel position of being expected to lose by five points to a team that was un-ranked and 2-2. That team, though, was Notre Dame, the oddsmakers apparently feeling that playing on South Bend's hallowed turf would work wonders for the Irish. It did.
Notre Dame scored first on a one-yard burst by Jerome Heavens, but the next 17 points were scored by the Panthers. Quarterback Rick Trocano picked up the first six on a three-yard run, and Mark Schubert added a field goal to put Pitt in front 10-7 at the half. Its lead was extended early in the fourth quarter when Trocano went in from four yards out. That's when Jerome Heavens and Quarterback Joe Montana got busy.
Taking advantage of a Pitt defense that was geared to stop his long passes, Montana shredded the Panther zone. In less than seven minutes, Montana, who during one stretch hit on seven straight passes, had the Irish ahead 19-17. The touchdowns came on an eight-yard pass to Kris Haines and a one-yard plunge by Montana himself. Then, after Pitt lost its third fumble of the game, Montana teamed up with Vagas Ferguson on a three-yard touchdown pass play that sealed Notre Dame's 26-17 victory.
Linebacker Bob Golic contributed to the Irish triumph by being in on 22 tackles and Heavens ran for 120 yards in 30 carries. That brought Heavens' career rushing total to 2,363 yards, enabling him to supplant George Gipp as the top runner in Notre Dame history.
Lest anyone think that all the favorites lost or that balance is rampant, it should be noted that St. Thomas beat Macalester 28-0 in a Minnesota Intercollegiate Conference game. That came as no surprise to the Scots, who have been outscored 304-27 in six games this season and who tied an NCAA record with this, their 39th consecutive setback.