SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Down 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 as the No. 4 Fighting Irish rallied from 14 down Saturday to beat Pittsburgh 29-26.
Notre Dame (9-0) is off to its best start since 1993, when it finished ranked No. 2 behind FSU.
"We overcame some uncharacteristic mistakes," coach Brian Kelly said. "Last year that would have been a loss."
Pittsburgh (4-5) missed a 33-yard field goal in the second overtime that would've won it.
Kelly pulled Golson late in the second quarter because he was missing reads and progressions. But the coach put him back in after backup Tommy Rees threw an interception and the Irish fell behind by two touchdowns.
Golson threw an 11-yard TD pass in the fourth as Notre Dame cut the lead to 20-12, but its chances seemed to end when corner K'Waun Williams intercepted Golson in the end zone.
But the Irish defense held, and Golson completed a 45-yarder to DaVaris Daniels at the Pitt 5. Golson then threw a 5-yard TD pass to Theo Riddick and Golson ran in for two to tie it. "I think I did a great job of leading the team coming down the stretch," Golson said.
Notre Dame avoided the fate of the 2002 team, the last time the Irish started a season 8-0, then was upset by Boston College 14-7.
A win Saturday seemed unlikely when they fell behind 20-6 late in the third, then again when Williams intercepted Golson in the end zone, and yet again when running back Cierre Wood fumbled as he dove into the end zone in the second OT and safety Jarred Holley recovered.
But the Irish kept finding life, the last time when Kevin Harper missed a 33-yard field goal after Wood's fumble. "We missed a field goal, that's why we lost," Pitt QB Tino Sunseri said.
No. 12 L'ville 45, Temple 17: Teddy Bridgewater passed for a career-high five touchdowns as the host Cardinals fell behind for the sixth straight game but rallied to remain unbeaten (9-0).
Cincinnati 35, Syracuse 24: Running back George Winn ran for a career-high three touchdowns and passed for another off a trick play in a win that included a change at quarterback for the host Bearcats. Munchie Legaux was benched a in the third. Backup Brendon Kay threw a 13-yard TD that put Cincinnati ahead to stay.