USC vs. Notre Dame: Prediction and preview
USC vs. Notre Dame is shaping up to be one of the most important games of Thanksgiving weekend in college football.
The Trojans are still fighting for a potential berth in the College Football Playoff. However, a red-hot Notre Dame team stands in their way. The Fighting Irish are also still in the running for a potential New Year’s Six bowl berth.
Here’s how the matchup breaks down:
USC vs. Notre Dame preview
Notre Dame has won 4 straight meetings in this series, with USC’s last victory coming all the way back in 2016. However, this is the best team USC has had in several years. The Trojans have never been in the hunt for a CFP spot this late in the regular season before.
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One big advantage USC has is at quarterback. Caleb Williams is a Heisman Trophy contender and is one of the most talented players in the entire country. So far this season, he has passed for 3,480 yards, 33 touchdowns and just 3 interceptions.
Notre Dame’s defense has been good this season, but it arguably hasn’t faced an offense as explosive as USC’s since its Week 1 matchup with Ohio State. The Trojans gain 7.28 yards per play on average, which leads the Pac-12. Notre Dame allows just 5 yards per play (top 25 nationally), so something will have to give in this matchup.
Notre Dame has a backup quarterback in Drew Pyne who has been serviceable — and at times better than that — but the Irish prefer to lean on their running game.
Attacking USC on the ground is likely to be Notre Dame’s best chance at moving the chains in this contest. USC ranks just eighth in the Pac-12 in rushing defense. Most recently, USC gave up 5.5 yards per carry to UCLA last weekend. That was the fourth time this season that a team has rushed for over 5 yards per attempt agains the Trojans.
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Keeping the ball on the ground also neutralizes USC’s biggest strength on defense: its ability to create interceptions. USC has picked off 18 passes this season, which leads the entire country. But if Pyne isn’t forced to make dangerous throws, USC could have trouble generating takeaways in this game.
USC vs. Notre Dame prediction
USC is the more talented team, but this is a mad matchup for the Trojans. It could be a game that comes down to the wire — perhaps a last-second field goal for whichever team has the ball last. Notre Dame’s running game and defense should be formidable enough to earn a win on the road in this matchup.
Prediction: Notre Dame 34, USC 31