This is one of my favorite games on Notre Dame’s schedule. This is a true rivalry between two storied programs. I won’t call it the best in the country (I’d give that to Ohio State-Michigan, hands down), but I’ll say it’s a top five rivalry. Typically, it’s one of the harder games on ND’s schedule. It wouldn’t look like that right now at a quick glance- unranked USC has fallen on some hard times. After losing to Stanford and Washington, the team is struggling. Their old coach, Steve Sarkisian, is out after being unable to control his alleged alcoholism (I say alleged only because several stories are fuzzy to the severity of it).
USC has talent. Cody Kessler was considered a Heisman candidate at the beginning of the season, and while that award looks unattainable to this point, you cannot deny the talent. The team averages over 310 yards passing a game, rushes for nearly 200, and puts up 39 points a game. The offense is real, and Notre Dame to this point has epitomized a “bend but don’t break” defense. The Irish have looked messy at times, but they consistently get opportune stops as the game goes on. But three straight weeks of coming out flat scares me- you don’t want to dig a hole against Kessler and Adoree Jackson. Jackson plays corner and receiver, while showing off his athleticism as a kick returner. The kid can do it all.
As I’ve done in every entry since I joined this blog, I’ll pick the Irish. While USC averages big points per game, their wins have come against Arkansas State, Idaho, and Arizona State. Only one of those teams (Arizona State) has a halfway decent roster. Save Utah, this is the best team the Trojans will face, and following the week-long controversy, I don’t think they’re equipped to come get a win in South Bend. The Irish, on the other hand, have already played their toughest game.
You’ve heard the names on the offensive side before. “If Kizer doesn’t turn the ball over”…. “If Prosise can get some serious yards”….”If Brown and Carlisle can provide solid options behind Fuller”… yada yada yada. At the end of the day, this Irish offense is just as potent as USC’s. The Trojans don’t hold that advantage that they usually do against the teams they play. And I don’t think the USC defense has seen an offense quite like the Irish’s. If the defense, specifically the front seven, can have a good game, and get off to a fast start for the first time in a while, I don’t see this one being a problem.