Another marquee game on Saturday night, as the USC Trojans travel to South Bend for a matchup with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. USC have been surviving this season, but that’s about all you can say for them. The Trojans are a 6-1 football team, but a couple of plays here and there they could have two more losses on their resume. Their most recent near defeat was against Utah last week.
The Utes scored in the waning moments to cut it to a point. Instead of playing for overtime, Utah went for a 2-point conversion and came up short. I admire the call, they just couldn’t convert to win it. USC survived with a 28-27 win. The Trojans are lucky to be ranked 11th in the nation, and with the other 1-loss team, they are still alive for the playoff, albeit a long shot.
Notre Dame enter with 1 loss on their schedule, too. They look an L against Georgia, a 20-19 loss to a very good Georgia team. Georgia looks like they could be the only SEC team to threaten Alabama, so that isn’t a bad loss at all. Meanwhile, USC have a loss against Washington State on a Friday night in Pullman. USC were convincing favorites in that game going in, so that’s what I would categorize as a bad loss.
Sam Darnold has been taking L’s all season long. His draft stock has been tanking with each passing game. I said it before the Washington State game, and I will say it again, he’s reminding me a lot of Christian Hackenberg. If he wants to be known as the next Hackenberg, fine, keep playing like this. He’s been locking in to one receiver, and when he has a receiver, he often sails the ball over his head for an incompletion. It will be interesting to see if he spends another year in college, or opts to bow out and go to the NFL.
Darnold has passed for 15 touchdowns and 9 interceptions, with a 62.7 completion percentage, down from 62.7 in 2016. He threw 9 interceptions all of last season, so he’s going to break that before we get out of October. However, the USC is down some prime targets in the receiving game, though. They’re still searching for a receiver to step it up, something they had in 2016. We’ll see if anyone comes up big against Notre Dame on Saturday night. Head below for our free USC vs. Notre Dame pick.
USC Trojans vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish Betting Odds:
vs. Notre Dame -3(-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
USC vs. Notre Dame Pick:
The USC offense hasn’t been what people envisioned going into the season. This goes all the way back to Week 1, where Darnold struggled against Western Michigan. It hasn’t been a one-game thing, it’s been a consistent poor effort. Darnold threw 2 interceptions and no touchdowns against Western Michigan.
The only game I’ve been impressed by Darnold was the Stanford game, but he also made mistakes in that one, too. USC has relied on Darnold Jones, without him the USC offense would look way uglier than it does. Jones has 640 yards rushing with 8 touchdowns for 6.3 yards per carry. He led the Trojans with 111 yards against Utah.
The Fighting Irish are 48th on defense, allowing 366 yards per game. I was most impressed by how they handled the Georgia offense, who has been running over everyone with Nick Chubb. I expect the Notre Dame defense to be fired up playing in this one at home on a Saturday night. They have been solid against the run with 134.5 yards per game. They’ve also allowed just 16.8 points per game, 15th in the nation.
The Trojans are 52nd, allowing 23.8 points per game. They have been okay, but not as good as expected. They will have their hands full with Brandon Wimbush. DeShone Kizer went to the NFL, but Wimbush is a lot like Kizer. Wimbush is actually the better runner, as he comes in with 402 yards and 8 touchdowns rushing. He’s also thrown for 6 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.
He has the offense 13th in the country, with 40 points per game. We haven’t heard much about him, but I expect him to introduce himself to the country tonight. The last time USC won in South Bend was in 2011, so Wimbush will look to keep it going. USC have been overrated all year long, and I think this is another spot they’re overvalued. I will gladly take the field goal with Notre Dame.
PICK: NOTRE DAME -3 (-110)