Trailing, 20-6, in the fourth quarter, Notre Dame was going to need some big plays and a little luck to stay undefeated and keep its national title hopes alive.
It got just enough of both.
Everett Golson scored on a quarterback sneak in the third overtime and the fourth-ranked Fighting Irish came back from a 14-point deficit Saturday to beat Pittsburgh, 29-26, in South Bend, Ind.
‘‘We overcame a lot tonight. We overcame some uncharacteristic mistakes,’’ coach Brian Kelly said. ‘‘Last year that would have been a loss. But our team kept fighting, kept playing.’’
Notre Dame (9-0) is off to its best start since 1993, when it finished the season ranked No. 2. Pitt (4-5) missed a potential game-winning field goal in overtime.
Kelly pulled Golson late in the second quarter because he was missing reads and progressions. But the coach put Golson back in after backup Tommy Rees threw an interception and the Irish fell behind by two touchdowns.
Golson threw an 11-yard touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter as Notre Dame cut Pitt’s lead to 20-12. Notre Dame’s chances for a comeback appeared to end when Pitt cornerback K'Waun Williams intercepted a pass by Golson in the end zone.
But the Irish defense held, and Golson completed a 45-yard pass to DaVaris Daniels at the Pitt 5. Golson then threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Theo Riddick and ran in for the 2-point conversion to tie the game.
Golson was 23 of 42 for 227 yards and rushed for 74 yards as well, as he kept the Pitt defense off balance. The Irish needed his big plays to overcome a stellar performance from Pitt’s Ray Graham, who rushed for 172 yards, including runs of 55 and 48 yards.
Oregon 62, Southern Cal 51 — Kenjon Barner rushed for a school-record 321 yards and five touchdowns, Marcus Mariota threw four TD passes, and the No. 2 Ducks produced another landmark offensive performance in a victory over the No. 18 Trojans in Los Angeles.
Josh Huff caught two touchdown passes, and De'Anthony Thomas and Daryl Hawkins also caught scoring passes for the Ducks (9-0, 6-0 Pac-12), who outlasted USC in a back-and-forth second half to extend their winning streak to 12 games since the Trojans (6-3, 4-3) won in Eugene last season.
Oregon’s 730 yards and 62 points were the most ever allowed by USC, which began playing football in 1888.
Barner set a rushing record for a USC opponent by the third quarter, topping Curtis Enis’s 241 yards for Penn State in 1996, and smashed the school record shortly afterward as the Ducks gradually pulled away in their closest game of the year.
Kansas State 44, Oklahoma St. 30 — Collin Klein piled up more than 300 yards of offense before leaving in the third quarter with an undisclosed injury, and the No. 3 Wildcats (9-0, 6-0 Big 12) remained unbeaten by beating the visiting Cowboys (5-3, 3-2).
Klein had thrown for 245 yards and run for 64 more before sneaking in for his 50th career rushing touchdown with 9:47 left in the third quarter. The Heisman Trophy front-runner didn’t return to the field.
Georgia 37, Mississippi 10 — Aaron Murray threw four touchdown passes and the No. 7 Bulldogs (8-1, 6-1) rolled over Ole Miss (5-4, 2-3) to move one win away from a spot in the SEC championship game.
Ohio State 52, Illinois 22 — Carlos Hyde rushed for 137 yards and three touchdowns and Braxton Miller burnished his Heisman credentials by passing for two scores and running for another as the No. 6 Buckeyes (10-0, 6-0 Big Ten) cruised past the visiting Illini (2-7, 0-5).
Florida 14, Missouri 7 — Mike Gillislee took a screen pass and went 45 yards for a touchdown, and the No. 8 Gators (8-1, 7-1 SEC) survived a scare to beat the visiting Tigers (4-5, 1-5).
Louisville 45, Temple 17 — Teddy Bridgewater (19 of 28, 324 yards) threw for a career-high five touchdowns and the No. 12 Cardinals (9-0, 4-0 Big East) rolled over the visiting Owls (3-5, 2-3).
Oklahoma 35, Iowa State 20 — Landry Jones passed for 405 yards and four touchdowns as the 12th-ranked Sooners (6-2, 4-1 Big 12) rebounded from a tough loss and posted a 14th straight win over the host Cyclones (5-4, 2-4).
Stanford 48, Colorado 0 — Kevin Hogan threw for 184 yards and ran for 48 more in just two quarters of work to ignite the offense for the No. 15 Cardinal (7-2, 5-1 Pac-12), who handed the Buffaloes their first shutout at home in 26 years.
Texas A&M 38, Mississippi St. 13 — Johnny Manziel (30 of 36) threw for 311 yards and ran for 129 yards and two touchdowns, leading the No. 16 Aggies (7-2, 4-2 SEC) past the No. 17 Bulldogs (7-2, 3-2) at Starkville, Miss.
Texas 31, Texas Tech 22 — David Ash threw for three touchdowns and 264 yards and Mike Davis had a career-high 165 yards and a career-best two touchdowns on four catches to lead the visiting Longhorns (7-2, 4-2 Big 12) to an upset of the No. 20 Red Raiders (6-3, 3-3).
Nebraska 28, Michigan St. 24 — Taylor Martinez threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Jamal Turner with six seconds left to give the No. 21 Cornhuskers (7-2, 4-1) the victory over the host Spartans (5-5, 2-4) and a tie with Michigan atop the Big Ten Legends Division.
Louisiana Tech 51, UTSA 27 — Kenneth Dixon scored three touchdowns and the No. 22 Bulldogs (8-1, 3-0 WAC) pulled away from the visiting Roadrunners (5-4, 1-3) in a game in which officials whistled 28 penalties for 288 yards.
TCU 39, West Virginia 38 — Corey Fuller caught a 25-yard touchdown pass and Trevone Boykin threw to Josh Boyce for the 2-point conversion, lifting the Horned Frogs (6-3, 3-3 Big 12) to a double-overtime win over the No. 23 Mountaineers (5-3, 2-3) in Morgantown, W.Va.