It's Friday again, and that means ISD game prediction time! The Irish are fresh off a bye week to heal and regroup. The Trojans are under new leadership and are coming off a win against Arizona last Thursday. Which team comes out on top?
Notre Dame should win this game. I think they have the better overall talent and depth. I also believe they have the better and more experienced quarterback.
The Irish defense played one of their best games of the season against Arizona State, and I'm thinking they'll continue to improve this week. Will it be enough, though?
On offense, this game should be about one thing-----running the football and developing the play-action pass. However, we haven't seen this Irish coaching staff be patient all year with the run, and this is why I think the Trojans continue to hang around in this game.
I've been going back and forth on this all week. I do think this is going to be a game too close for comfort and another frustrating one to watch. Somehow, I think ND pulls it out.
Notre Dame: 28 USC: 24
I feel more lost this week with my prediction than I have all year. The funny thing about that is I’ve watched USC more than any other team Notre Dame has played all season. I think that might be the problem – I’ve seen them at their worst against teams like Washington State and Arizona State and then at their best last week against Arizona. I can’t seem to get a bead on what the Trojans are all about.
Can firing a coach midseason and replacing him with a guy who’s ‘more fun’ turn a team around in three weeks? I’m not buying it. I don’t believe Arizona was very good to begin with and I think USC’s lack of depth on defense gets exposed against the Irish. I also think the weather will take the edge off of USC’s early enthusiasm and play to Notre Dame’s advantage.
The Irish pass rush will get to Cody Kessler. I think they found their rhythm against Arizona State and that will continue this weekend. USC will make some big plays in the passing game, that’s what they do, but they have to be limited by Notre Dame’s secondary. I feel like the downfield passing game is the only thing that will keep the Trojans in this game with running back Tre Madden out. My guess is the Irish rush four and drop seven with deep safety help for most of the game.
The Notre Dame offense will play well tomorrow. They got better as the year went on last season and I believe the same thing will occur in 2013. They’ll look the best they have all season in all facets of the game. For the first time since the Temple game, they’ll score a touchdown on their first possession and get off to a hot start.
In the end, I see the Irish by a touchdown, but it’s not as close as the score will indicate.
Notre Dame: 32 USC: 25
Notre Dame needs to take the opportunity tomorrow night to prove that it has passed USC as a program under Brian Kelly. Sure, the Trojans will be on their way back up now that they're moving away from Lane Kiffin, but the Irish have the chance to show everybody how far ahead they are currently and they will do so in front of several recruits visiting from California.
Hopefully, this game won't be as close as the score indicates.
Notre Dame needs to establish a balanced passing game early, which will allow them to keep the Trojans off balance while controlling the clock and picking its spots to run. Tommy Rees needs to take care of the football, which I believe he'll do, and help the Irish out to a 17-3 lead at the half. The second half will be the time to pound the ball and Notre Dame will do just that. A late Trojan touchdown brings the game within two touchdowns, but Notre Dame needs to get on top early and never give them any hope.
Rees should approach 300 yards while Amir Carlisle and George Atkinson III post big numbers with a few big plays before Cam McDaniel churns out the tough yards in the fourth quarter.
Notre Dame: 31 USC: 17
It's fairly interesting that Notre Dame's last two opponents are teams that have played each other. Arizona State beat USC 62-41 back on Sept. 28 and got Lane Kiffin fired. Notre Dame then beat the Sun Devils 37-34 the following week in Texas and then got to rest its legs and game plan for this week's game against the Trojans.
Southern Cal is coming off a 38-31 victory over Arizona last week, but the trend to watch is the plethora of points - nearly a hundred - the Trojans surrendered in those past two games. The Irish have showed this season that they can score points of their own - averaging better than 27 points through six games.
This is a game where Notre Dame is going to be able to score and they should also be able to keep the points down against a USC team that is still in crisis mode with interim head coach Ed Orgeron at the helm.
The same Arizona State team that ran for 261 yards against the Trojans was held to a miniscule 65 yards two weeks ago by Notre Dame's defense. The Irish will top the 200-yard rushing mark against USC, thus helping Tommy Rees protect the ball. It might not always be pretty Saturday night, but the Irish will finally beat USC at home after losing five straight games to the Trojans at Notre Dame Stadium.
Notre Dame: 31 USC 20