Despite featuring five different coaches and plenty of players, there's been a common thread in every Notre Dame-Pittsburgh game since 2008:
They've all been decided by no more than six points.
In 2008, Pitt beat Notre Dame, 36-33, in four overtimes. The next year, Pitt held off a furious fourth-quarter Irish rally to win, 27-22. Both those games were played with the same coaches on each sideline: Dave Wannstedt for Pitt, and Charlie Weis for Notre Dame.
In Wannstedt's final year at Pitt -- and Brian Kelly's first at Notre Dame -- the Irish won, 23-17. In 2011 -- Todd Graham's only year at Pitt -- Notre Dame won, 15-12. And last year, Notre Dame won in epic, controversial fashion in triple overtime over Paul Chryst's Panthers.
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It's been an oddly-competitive series, given Pitt's 19 wins between 2008-2009 and Notre Dame's 20 in 2011-2012. The only year the two teams have been even, record-wise, was 2010, in which both teams went 8-5.
"We've always played Notre Dame tough, I don't know what it is," Pitt offensive lineman Matt Rotheram said over the phone this week. "But Notre Dame week, everybody wants to beat Notre Dame. It's a big deal."
"It's always a hard-fought game," Irish wide receiver T.J. Jones said. "They take us down to the wire every year. Last year was three overtimes -- I think every game in the last three years has been within seven points. It's definitely a tough-fought game every year."
Making things weirder -- the only time in which the team that won the turnover battle won the game was 2010. In Pitt's two wins, it had fewer turnovers than Notre Dame, and in Notre Dame's last two wins it had more turnovers than Pitt.
It's an odd trend, but at this point it indeed is a trend. And with that, even if it doesn't seem reasonable -- expect another close game between Notre Dame and Pitt on Saturday.