Fourth-ranked Notre Dame and Pittsburgh are looking to avoid distractions before their game in South Bend on Saturday.
The Fighting Irish (8-0) tried all week to distance themselves from talk about possibly playing for their first national championship since 1988. They skipped discussions about how the 2002 team stumbled at this same point.
The Panthers (4-4) have a different sort of distraction after leading rusher Ray Graham, leading receiver Devin Street, and defensive back Lafayette Pitts were charged Thursday with misdemeanor counts of simple assault and conspiracy involving three other students.
The players deny being involved in a confrontation with a student, who told police he was hit in the head, and all will play on Saturday.
The players were not arrested but have been mailed summonses to appear in Pittsburgh Municipal Court for a preliminary hearing Jan. 9.
School spokesman E.J. Borghetti said in a statement the players have offered to speak with police, but have not been questioned or received any court documents.
‘‘We take matters of player discipline very seriously and will continue to cooperate with any investigation,’’ Borghetti said. ‘‘However, we will not, and hope others will not, rush to judgment on these misdemeanor allegations.’’
According to the complaint, Karl Olsheski, Diana Olsheski, and Samantha Mitchell told police they were walking along a street in the Oakland neighborhood, when a group of Pitt football players walked into their path about 12:30 a.m. Oct. 21.
Karl Olsheski told police that Graham confronted him by saying, ‘‘What’s up?’’ along with a racial slur. Olsheski said he tried to walk away but that Graham and Street blocked his way and Pitts kept him from retreating.
Olsheski ‘‘stated that shortly thereafter, he was struck one time on the left side of his head by Mr. Street.’’
Police tried to ensure the students identified the correct players by having them look at photo lineups. While none of the alleged victims could recognize all three players, each player was recognized by at least one, including Mitchell who recognized Street from a class they took together on vampires.
Washington tops Cal
Bishop Sankey ran for a career-high 189 yards and two touchdowns to give Washington its first road win in more than a year, 21-13, over California in Berkeley.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins caught eight passes for 154 yards and a touchdown for the Huskies (5-4, 3-3 Pac-12), who had been outscored, 145-41, in three road games this season and had lost six straight away games since beating Utah on Oct. 1, 2011.
The Golden Bears (3-7, 2-5) lost for the fourth time in six games.