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Big Game Breakdown: USC at Notre Dame

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One of college football’s most storied rivalries kicks off on Saturday night when the USC Trojans travel east to take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Both teams should be well-rested as both are coming off of bye weeks. The Trojans come into this game at 3-3 while the Fighting Irish are 5-1.

Notre Dame is currently a seven-point favorite at most online sportsbooks. This game should be a shootout as the total is currently listed at 57.5 points. Let’s dig into each team to figure out who has the upper hand in this iconic rivalry.

USC Offense vs. Notre Dame Defense

Trojan QB Kedon Slovis has one of the best arms in the nation. The 6-3 junior has thrown for 1,519 yards and 9 TDs so far this season. USC is averaging 6.1 yards per play which ranks 29th in the country (teamrankings.com). Slovis’s favorite receiver is Drake London, who has 832 receiving yards and 5 TDs.

The USC running game has been mediocre so far this year. The Trojans average 4.5 yards per rush which ranks 50th in all of college football. However, the offensive line has done a great job of protecting Slovis, as he only gets sacked on 2.65% of snaps. 

Notre Dame’s defense has done an admirable job so far this year under new defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman. The Irish are only giving up 24.3 points per game and they do an excellent job of getting off the field on third down. Safety Kyle Hamilton is the emotional leader of this defense and he has already picked off three passes this season.

Notre Dame Offense vs. USC Defense

The Notre Dame offense is averaging 31 points per game, but this unit is one of the least explosive in the country. They rank 98th in yards per play (4.9) and 120th in yards per rush (2.7). The passing game has performed at a decent level, as they average 7.7 yards per pass (55th).

QB Jack Coan has had a good season from a statistical standpoint. The 6-3 senior has thrown for 1,208 yards and 10 TDs while only throwing 3 INTs. Unfortunately, Coan has been running for his life most of the season since Notre Dame allows a sack on 10.17% of snaps (113th). 

The USC defense has been a slight disappointment this season, especially when you consider how many 4 and 5 star recruits are on that side of the ball. The Trojans rank 97th in yards per play allowed and 98th in yards per pass allowed. The main bright spot for this defense has been Drake Jackson, who has 18 tackles and 3 sacks.

Our Pick: Notre Dame -7

We hate laying this many points with a sluggish offense like Notre Dame’s but we think they dominate this one at home. USC just hasn’t looked right all year and they’ve lost three games to pretty average football teams (Utah, Oregon State, and Stanford). We think the Irish win this one by at least 10 points. Lay the points and best of luck!

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