Notre Dame expecting Pittsburgh's best


Notre Dame expecting Pittsburgh's best

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Pittsburgh opened its season with a 31-17 loss to FCS-level Youngstown State, a meddling Missouri Valley Conference program that doesn't have much business winning at Heinz Field against an FBS team.

It's safe to say Paul Chryst's tenure at Pitt didn't start off too well. The Panthers then lost by 24 to Cincinnati, but pulled what looked like a major upset in Week 3, defeating then No- 13 Virginia Tech 35-17. That's the same Virginia Tech, though, that's 4-5 after a loss to Miami and is likely staring down a 6-6 season.

Heading into Saturday, Pitt is 4-4, centered in the glut of mediocrity (and that may be too kind) that is the Big East. Take this as an example -- Louisville is 8-0 and ranked No. 10 in the BCS. They don't play a ranked team all year and by Football Outsiders' F rankings, the Cardinals are the 58th-best FBS team in the nation.

Pittsburgh lost on the road to Louisville 45-35 on Oct. 13, with Tino Sunseri completing 28 of 37 passes for 287 yards and two touchdowns. The Panthers' ageless wonder (he's 23, and is almost certainly one of the last collegiate players to be born in 1988) hasn't thrown an interception in a month and a half and only has two on the season while throwing for 13 touchdowns.

"He has really matured as a quarterback, really impressed with his play this year," Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. "He's not turning the football over. Last year, he was similar to what we were going through with some untimely turnovers. He takes great care of the football. He's a veteran, you can see that. And the offense fits him very well and he can make plays.

"He's a guy that I think is playing the best football that he's played his entire career at Pittsburgh."

But Sunseri hasn't faced a defense as good as Notre Dame's this year, and that's by a pretty wide margin. Regardless of the matchup differences, though, Notre Dame players saying that they'll take Pitt lightly.

"We know we're going to get their best shot, not only because we're 8-0 but because it's Notre Dame, and no one like Notre Dame," center Braxston Cave said. "Everyone's going to get up and play their best game when they come to Notre Dame Stadium."

Pitt didn't suspend any of the three players -- RB Ray Graham, WR Devin Street and CB Lafayette Pitts -- who were charged with assault and conspiracy on Friday stemming from an incident last month. Graham and Street are both starters, with Graham rushing for 622 yards on 134 carries and Street leading the team with 50 catches for 695 yards.

With their status no longer in question, the biggest takeaway for this weekend's game is that Street was pointed out by the victim because the two were in a class about vampires at Pittsburgh, according to the Associated Press.

For Notre Dame -- which doesn't teach a class about vampires -- the key is to avoid a letdown following last week's win against Oklahoma. The Irish already avoided falling in a classic "trap" game against BYU -- albeit by a narrow margin -- so if they learned from that, Saturday shouldn't be a problem.

The mantra of preparing for Pittsburgh and taking the Panthers seriously began moments after Notre Dame victoriously walked off the field in Norman. Most Notre Dame players brought up Pittsburgh when talking after the game, and Kelly's message was designed to keep Notre Dame's focus on this week, and this week alone -- as has been the case all year.

"If we start listening to national championship and the BCS, we'll lose a football game," Kelly said in Oklahoma. "And they're a pretty smart group, and they know if they stick with what we've done and stick with the process of just preparing for Pittsburgh, they'll be fine. But if they start thinking about all those other things and listening, we'll lose."

Joe Maddon's mom could miss Game 3 of World Series at Wrigley due to delayed flight

Joe Maddon's mom could miss Game 3 of World Series at Wrigley due to delayed flight

The Cubs are hosting their first World Series game since Oct. 10, 1945 tonight, and there's an important family member that may not be in the stands for it.

Joe Maddon's mom, Beanie, was expected to be in attendance, but that's now in jeopardy after Maddon told reporters prior to the game that her flight from Philadelphia to Chicago was delayed due to an aircract that caught fire at O'Hare airport Friday afternoon.

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Operations have resumed, but it's unclear whether her flight will arrive in time for her to make Game 3 when the Cubs battle the Cleveland Indians.

Indians embrace potentially hostile Wrigley Field conditions for Game 3

Indians embrace potentially hostile Wrigley Field conditions for Game 3

With the city drunk on Cubs fever, the Cleveland Indians expect to face hostile conditions when storied Wrigley Field hosts its first World Series game since 1945 on Friday.

But Indians manager Terry Francona said the potential for an unreceptive atmosphere shouldn’t intimidate his club. Francona said Thursday that the makeup of the Indians, a group flush with veterans and and confident young stars, should help the team manage itself in the potentially Unfriendly Confines in Game 3 of the 2016 World Series. Josh Tomlin faces the Cubs Kyle Hendricks in the contest, which begins at 7:08 p.m. CST.

“It will be a tremendous atmosphere,” Francona said. “I don’t think there’s going to be a ton of people cheering for us. But then that’s where it comes in the feeling in the clubhouse because it is going to be us against the world (Friday), but us is pretty good. We have a good feeling. Everybody in there protects everybody else and takes care of everybody else.”

Wrigley Field promises to offer a surreal setting on Friday.

 The Cubs have never played a game this late in the calendar year and they haven’t been to this far in the postseason for several generations.

Fans were lined up for the Cubby Bear as early as 5 a.m. and other local watering holes reached full capacity 4-5 hours before first pitch with patrons paying ridiculous cover charges just to be able to watch the game live from Wrigleyville.

[SHOP: Buy a "Try Not to Suck" shirt with proceeds benefiting Joe Maddon's Respect 90 Foundation & other Cubs Charities]

Still, Cleveland isn’t unprepared for insane playing conditions. The Indians won their only game at always electric Fenway Park in the American League Division Series and then emerged victorious in two of three games at the insanely loud Rogers Centre in front of crowds of 49,507 and 48,800. Veteran first baseman Mike Napoli said he hoped the Indians might face the Cubs in the World Series just so he could experience Wrigley Field in October.

“It's a park you want to come to and play,” Napoli said. “I watched when they clinched to go to the World Series and how crazy it was and seeing the fans in the streets where they had to have police escorts. You could just see the crowd just part ways.

“So it's going to be fun. It's something that I wanted to be a part of, and thought that it would be an unbelievable World Series.”