October 19th, 2013 at 7:30 P.M. ET
Last Meeting (2012): Notre Dame 22-USC 13
Line: Notre Dame (-3.0)
- Lead Editor Andrew Hall: USC 16-Notre Dame 20
- Podcast Contributor Brett Arney: USC 13-Notre Dame 21
- Staff Writer Nick Combs: USC 17-Notre Dame 28
- Staff Writer Tim Colin: USC 21-Notre Dame 24
Michael James on USC’s Offense:
Last season Bob Diaco pledged to contain USC’s talented group of wide receivers and prevent big plays. In 2013, Diaco will need to concentrate his effort on slowing down USC’s running game and containing the short passes. USC coaches have undoubtedly identified the Irish’s struggles covering speedy receivers and running backs in space, so Notre Dame should anticipate bubble screens and wheel routes to Angholor, Madden and Davis. If the Irish linebackers and secondary fail to slow down USC’s short passes, Diaco will be forced to play more nickel packages and spread the field. USC can then unleash Madden and Davis to pick up big yards on the ground.
The two keys to the game are whether the Irish front four can penetrate the Trojans backfield to disrupt the running game and whether the secondary can tackle in space and limit the after the catch yardage on short passes and screens. If Notre Dame does shut down the running game and contain the short passes, they will eliminate the Trojans most effective offensive plays and make Kessler throw downfield from the pocket. The Irish front four can then pin their ears back against a weak USC offensive line and force Kessler into bad throws or negative plays.
If the defense front had not played so well against Arizona State, I would give USC a good chance at winning this game. But given their resurrection against the Sun Devils, I anticipate a similar dominant performance against the Trojans. Notre Dame should collect their third win in their last four games against the USC.
Tim Colin on USC’s Defense:
Both teams need a statement win and with each team at 4-2, a good win could catapult either team into the Top25. For the Irish, the run game will be crucial and set the tone for the offense. The Trojan defense gave up 261 yards on the ground against Arizona State and another 145 against the Wildcats. The Trojan run defense is ranked 15th in the nation, and giving up just 107 yards a game on the ground, but the last two weeks have proven they can be pushed around. The Trojan’s athleticism on the defensive line and linebackers makes me nervous with Tommy Rees under center. The offensive line has done great, but its Rees throwing on the run that makes me uncomfortable. If the Irish can keeping running the ball consistently, it should open up some play-action opportunities through the air.
Overall, I think this is a great match-up for the Irish and considering the inconsistent Trojan defense; the Irish should start the second half of the season with a victory.