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Notre Dame prepares for Pitt

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly is familiar with what Pittsburgh will try to do this weekend, even if the Panthers are still learning their system.

The Irish (1-2) travel to play the Panthers (2-1) at noon Saturday.

The game matches Notre Dame against the architect of on of its more surprising losses last season.

Todd Graham, who took over Pitt in the offseason, led Tulsa to a 28-27 win over Notre Dame last season.

"He knows us quite well from last year," Kelly said during his Tuesday news conference. "We're familiar with his system, and now he is essentially put in his philosophy of offense and defense at Pittsburgh.

"When you watch film, you see a lot of similarities to his Tulsa club. We've done a lot of film study on their games this year, and we looked at last year as well."

Pittsburgh is led by running back Ray Graham, who has run for 419 yards with six touchdowns.

"The first guy that stands out is Ray Graham," Kelly said. "An outstanding running back, multidimensional in that he can catch the ball coming out of the back field, he can line up as a wide receiver."

Kelly had good news about the family emergency that kept linebacker Prince Shembo from playing in Saturday's win over Michigan State.

"The family matter we talked about has really turned out to be quite remarkable," Kelly said. "We're really happy for Prince and his family."

Kelly also said that backup cornerback Lo Wood has chronic acute tendonitis in his quad. Wood does not have any structural damage, according to Kelly, and he is likely going to play this weekend.

If Wood is unable to play, safety Jamoris Slaughter would be used at cornerback.

Charitable Crist

Irish senior quarterback Dayne Crist was named to the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team. He is one of 22 players on the team.

Crist helped organize a fundraiser on campus the last three years to benefit St. Baldrick's Foundation, a charity that raises money for childhood cancer research. The fundraiser has raised about $100,000 the last three years.

Fans will be able to vote for an Allstate AFCA Good Works Team Captain by visiting and searching "Good Works." All 22 members of the Good Works Team will be invited to New Orleans to take part in a special volunteer project leading up to the 2012 Allstate Sugar Bowl.

The Journal Gazette's Assistant Sports Editor Tony Krausz covers The University of Notre Dame. Krausz, a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism and a native of St. Louis, has been assistant sports editor since October 2005. Prior to joining the JG, he worked at two papers in Mississippi covering high school and college athletics.