Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly finally has an opponent he is familiar with this season.
When the Irish play host to Pittsburgh on Saturday, Kelly will be going for his third win in four games against the Panthers.
Because of that familiarity from Kelly's last three seasons in the Big East with Cincinnati, the coach said this week feels like preparing for a conference opponent.
"This comes down to who is better prepared, and who executes better on Saturday because we know each other so well," Kelly said.
Kelly said the Panthers' running game, which is be led by running back Ray Graham's 164 yards per game, will be a concern. Plus, there is still Dion Lewis, who missed Saturday's game with a shoulder injury.
"Both backs present a great challenge," Kelly said.
Notre Dame will also be challenged to keep defensive end Jabaal Sheard at bay. Sheard has 20 tackles and three sacks this season.
"He creates major problems for us if we single him up," Kelly said. "We've got to do some things to slow him up."