Just a couple weeks ago, this rivalry looked set to be a monumental matchup between two powerhouses. That has quickly changed on both sides of the field. USC has picked up two losses and in turn the Trojans fired head coach Steve Sarkisian, who was only in his second year, but had some internal problems. Notre Dame was a Top 10 team, but fell in the waning seconds at Clemson a couple weekends ago. Playing at home, the Fighting Irish are a -6.5 point favorite at 5 Dimes Sportsbook.
Despite the firing, it can’t be denied this USC team is heavily skilled. A Thursday loss to Washington last week was a bit surprising though, and ultimately ended the Cody Kessler for Heisman talks. Sitting at 3-2, the Trojans face an uphill battle and could eventually sport a losing record if they don’t turn things around quick, and they currently don’t have a head coach for the future. After this Game, they still have Utah, California, Arizona, Oregon and UCLA on the Schedule.
Notre Dame is still in the hunt to have a solid season and could even get Playoff consideration if they win out. Losing on the road at a Top 10 team shouldn’t hurt the Irish’s resume all that much. If they can get a win here, they could easily run the table until traveling to Stanford in the final week of the year.
There should be points in this Game, that much we know. Notre Dame’s defense hasn’t had a truly great Game since stopping Texas to three points in the opener. While Kessler and company were held to 12 points last week, this is still a high-potent offense. Kessler (69.5%, 15 TDs, 3 INTs) will look to get back on track with receiver JuJu Smith-SChuster (619 yards, 6 TDs), but he will need to find a new target instead of focusing on one guy. Tre Madden and Ronald Jones have been solid at running back and Notre Dame can be beat via the ground Game.
The Trojans have a stocked defense as well, but where will their motivation be? The last time on the road, they stopped Arizona State to 14 points. A couple Games ago, they allowed 41 at home to Stanford. Which team will show up here?
DaShone Kizer has played well for the Irish since coming in for the injured Malik Zaire, but he hasn’t been uNFLappable. Kizer has thrown a pick in every Game, but his mobility has helped him rush for a touchdown in three straight as well. Receiver Will Fuller (571 yards, 7 TDs) is close to unstoppable in the college Game and it’s looking like Kizer is getting more comfortable throwing to him. Like in previous Games, Ntore Dame will try and run the ball from the start, in order to not put too much pressure on Kizer. That starts with C.J. Prosise (779 yards, 9 TDs), who had 185 total yards and three touchdowns last week against Navy.
USC dominated this Game last year 49-14 and Kessler had his way throwing for six touchdowns. However, we could easily see this Scoreline flipped if USC can’t overcome its coach getting fired.
The favorite is 10-4 ATS in the last 14 meetings between these schools, while the under has hit in Four of the last five. The Irish have covered in Four straight home Games and the Trojans have covered in five straight on the road.
Our Pick – Certainly the firing of Sarkisian is the big Wild Card here. A situation like that can go either way. We could see USC not show up, or we could see them rally. Our educated guess says they rally.
With that in mind, Our numbers have this as a close Game. Other than their opener against Texas and a Game against UMASS, The Irish simply haven’t been able to extend a margin. They don’t figure to extend one here either, going up against the 8th ranked defense in the nation in terms of yards per point.
Look for a big effort from the Trojans coming off last weeks loss and the Sarkisian mess. USC +6.5