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PITTSBURGH (pittsburghpanthers.com and AP) - DeShone Kizer threw for five touchdowns and ran for another as No. 8 Notre Dame bolstered its College Football Playoff resume with a 42-30 victory over Pittsburgh on Saturday.
Kizer completed 19 of 26 passes for 262 yards with no turnovers as the Irish (8-1) won their fourth straight. Will Fuller caught seven passes for 157 yards and three scores and Josh Adams ran for 147 yards and hauled in Kizer's final touchdown pass.
Notre Dame never trailed and rolled up 435 total yards in their first game since being ranked fifth in the initial CFP poll.
Nate Peterman passed for 223 yards with a touchdown and an interception for Pitt (6-3), which has lost two straight. Jordan Whitehead ran for two scores for the Panthers. Tyler Boyd caught three passes for 84 yards to set a school record for career yards receiving.
The Irish stressed they weren't going to get caught up in their lofty spot in the CFP, pointing out that being fifth in the first week of November wouldn't mean a thing if they looked too far down the road. That typically isn't an issue when Notre Dame plays the Panthers, who seem to play the Irish tight regardless of the circumstances.
Pitt is one of the ACC's bigger surprises under first-year coach Pat Narduzzi, who has given the program a jolt by revamping the defense and giving offensive coordinator Jim Chaney license to go for it whenever or wherever he chooses. The attitude makeover appears in full swing.
The Panthers simply weren't quick enough to keep up with the Irish even after starting running back C.J. Prosise went to the locker room in the first half with an undisclosed injury and did not return.
Kizer hit Fuller for a 47-yard touchdown on the game's third play and Pitt's methodical attack lacked the firepower to match. Kizer drilled a 12-yard strike between two Pitt defenders to Torii Hunter Jr. later in the first half and found Fuller deep for a 46-yard catch and run that put the Irish up 21-3 at the break.
The Panthers finally generated some momentum in the second half, with Whitehead showing off the speed that made him the most coveted recruit in Pennsylvania last season. Getting snaps on offense for the first time, Pitt's starting safety scored on runs of 10 and 3 yards to give the Panthers some juice. But Kizer and the Irish responded every time.
A week after needing to find Fuller late to escape against Temple, Kizer made sure no such heroics were required. Expertly picking apart the Panthers, Kizer found Fuller for a 14-yard score and added a 5-yard flip to Josh Adams. By the time he faked a handoff to Adams and jogged into the end zone with 5:47 to go, the Irish were up 25.
Notre Dame hosts Wake Forest next week then ends the season with trips to Boston College and Stanford, the finale looming as the biggest obstacle between the Irish and a very compelling argument to be in the national semifinals.
The Panthers, meanwhile, head to Duke next week with an outside shot of staying in the ACC Coastal Division race behind front-running North Carolina.