The rivalry continues in South Bend on Saturday night, as the USC Trojans and Notre Dame Fighting Irish meet at Notre Dame Stadium. USC and Notre Dame have played a staggering 87 times since 1926. Notre Dame lead the all-time series, 46-36-5, but the Trojans lead 11-6 since 1996. However, the Fighting Irish have won the last two games and 3-1 in their previous four meetings.
So they’ve both had their share of successful and failures over the years. USC are one of those teams in college football that are attempting to get back to glory. Since the NCAA came down on them for the Reggie Bush scandal, the Trojans have been trying to get back to the forefront of the college football scene.
Head coach Clay Helton is under plenty of pressure this season. The way I see it, Helton’s days are numbered at USC. Unless the Trojans win the Pac-12, I could see Helton being shown the door. For a program of their caliber and the money USC has, hiring Helton to begin with was slightly baffling.
They have the dough to attract a high-profile head coach and went with Helton instead. He seems like a nice guy and all, but USC have under performed in his tenure. Yes, the Trojans won the Pac-12 in 2017. However, if I recall, the schedule wasn’t difficult and they got blown out by Ohio State in the Cotton Bowl. Meanwhile, Notre Dame have been to the College Football Playoff twice under Brian Kelly, including a trip to the championship in 2012 against Alabama.
The USC of old aren’t getting blown out there, and as such, haven’t reached their full potential. Pete Carroll inherited a losing program and turned them into a powerhouse. Helton came into talent and hasn’t gotten the most out of his roster. A lackluster performance against Notre Dame on Saturday will only heat up the Helton getting canned rumors. The oddsmakers believe that USC are double-digit underdogs in this one. Head below for our free USC vs. Notre Dame pick.
USC Trojans vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish NCAAF Week 7 Betting Odds:
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USC vs. Notre Dame Pick:
Notre Dame may get criticized for the beating they took against Alabama in the National Championship game back in 2012, and then again last season against Clemson in the semi-final, but at least the Irish can say they’ve been there. Helton hasn’t accomplished that much and his job wouldn’t be in jeopardy if he brought the Trojans to the College Football Playoff in his time in Pasadena. They might have had a case in 2017 when they won the Pac-12 Championship, but their easy schedule ultimately hurt their chances. The Pac-12 is wide open this season without a clear No. 1, so they have a decent chance of winning the conference again.
The Trojans are coming off a loss in a Pac-12 matchup against Washington. Washington grinded out a 28-14 win to put the clamps down on redshirt freshman Matt Fink. Fink passed for just 163 yards with a touchdown and 3 interceptions. USC is expected to get Kedon Slovis back after he had to miss last week against Washington.
The freshman is the most talented QB on the depth chart, but he’s only in his first year and must learn the ropes. Slovis has passed for 5 touchdowns and 4 interceptions with 732 yards passing. This will easily be the most difficult matchup up his career after matchups against Utah and BYU to open his college career. Slovis struggled on the road against BYU, as the Trojans fell by a score of 30-27 in overtime. He passed for 281 yards with 2 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. His last interception of the game sealed the win for the Cougars.
If Slovis thought the environment at BYU was tricky, just wait until Saturday night at Notre Dame Stadium. The Irish will throw a dangerous defense at Slovis in this one. Notre Dame are 39th in the nation with 330 yards allowed per game and having allowed just 14.8 points a game, they’re ranked 13th. With just 183.2 passing yards surrendered on average, this is going to be a test for the freshman at Notre Dame Stadium, who happens to be coming off a concussion.
Notre Dame will be fielding an experienced and capable signal-caller in Ian Book. Book has passed for 13 touchdowns and 2 interceptions on 65.5% completions. Note that Book has faced a couple of good defenses as well, with matchups against Georgia and Virginia. Notre Dame came close against Georgia, but were ultimately edged out by a score of 23-17 in Athens on the road. USC are far from being on Georgia’s level. Expect Book to lead the Fighting Irish to a two-touchdown win on Saturday night for the win and cover.