The #13 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (8-3) travel to LA Memorial Coliseum to face off against the #6 USC Trojans (9-1, 8-1) in a rivalry game with huge ramifications for the Trojan’s playoff hopes. With a win over Notre Dame, the Trojans can put themselves in the CFP conversation. The Fighting Irish have stormed back this season after early losses to Ohio State, Marshall, and Stanford and have won five straight games, including a 35-14 win over #4 Clemson. Let’s take a look at the odds, preview, and prediction for a ‘best bet’ in this exciting match-up.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs Southern Cal. Trojans Odds
The Trojans are -5.5 home favorites to the +5.5 underdog Fighting Irish. USC is -215 on the money-line and Notre Dame is +180. The over/under is set at 64.5 points.
Notre Dame Vs. USC Prediction
The Fighting Irish blew out Boston College last week by a score of 44-0. Like the last five weeks, the Fighting Irish relied on their stingy defense and their great rushing attack to carry them to victory. Now, facing a USC defense that has problems stopping the run, the Irish have to feel confident in this one with seemingly nothing to lose as +5.5 point underdogs.
Coming off their best win of the season, USC defeated its hated rival UCLA by a score of 48-45 as -2.5 road favorites. Down 14-0 by the end of the first quarter, USC stormed back and its defense stepped up, picking off opposing quarterback Dorian Thompson Robinson three times. While the offense clicked under QB Caleb Williams, the now co-favorite for the Heisman trophy, the Trojans’ defense had perhaps its best game of the season as well. That being said: the unit still gave up 45 points, allowing the over to easily surpass its 76 total (the highest in CFB last week). While it was a great win, the Trojans’ defense will have to be better to stop a dangerous Notre Dame rushing attack.
This is ultimately a bad matchup for USC, especially as the team comes off such an emotional victory. If USC doesn’t reset and humble itself, Notre Dame could easily run away with this game. Because head coach Lincoln Riley has been in spots like this many times in the past at Oklahoma, I expect the Trojans to show back up. There are major concerns with the team’s matchups against the Fighting Irish though. Notre Dame ranks 31st in the NCAA in rushing yards per game with 191.2 and its defense ranks 15th in the country in pass defense, only allowing opposing passers 186.8 passing yards per game. Given that rush defense is USC’s biggest weakness and its passing offense is its biggest strength, these stats and rankings do not bode well for a team coming off the high of its season.
Averaging 257.8 yards per game, the Caleb WIlliams Heisman hype train is finally gaining the steam necessary to jump OSU QB CJ Stroud. With a tough matchup against the Fighting Irish’s pass rush, this is a make or break game for Williams’ candidacy for the coveted trophy and for his team’s CFP hopes. If Williams can put up his regular numbers against this great defense, then the Heisman will most likely be his for the taking. Facing such a huge test, this is a game that is certainly a much watch for even fringe CFB fans.
From a betting perspective, +5.5 is steep for a Notre Dame team that specializes in USC’s strengths and weaknesses. That being said, the over on USC games is hitting at an over 85% clip this season and is, again, my safest bet for this matchup. With Notre Dame’s offense ranking 37th in the NCAA in points scored per game (31ppg) and with USC’s offense ranking 3rd with 42.9 ppg, this is an excellent play.
Pick: OVER 64.5