Staff Predictions: USC
Observer Sports Writers | Thursday, October 20, 2011
Considering USC isn’t nearly as good as it was just a few years ago, Notre Dame’s biggest challenge in this game is going to be focusing on the task at hand. The hoopla around this game is disproportionate considering this a matchup of two unranked teams — but the atmosphere should be nothing short of unbelievable. That said, once the first kickoff hits the night air, all that disappears. The game is decided on the field — where the Irish are much, much better.
Matt Barkley and Robert Woods may have quite the connection, but Tommy Rees has Michael Floyd as just one weapon in a potent receiving corps. The Notre Dame pass rush will have a field day against the inconsistent Trojan offensive line. But it’s a rivalry game, and it’ll be close. Just not close enough for the Trojans to win.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 38, USC 31
I want y’all to see this … I want you to see everything … All of the lights.
Oh, don’t act like you thought I’d use any other song. As horrible as Kanye’s latest hit is, it is pertinent this week for two reasons. One, well, see the cover of this Insider. Two, it is time for us all to see this: Notre Dame beating USC at home.
Most around this campus don’t talk about 2005. 2007 may as well not have happened. I stood on the sideline, staring down the line of scrimmage, on fourth-and-four in 2009.
So yes, that is my analysis. It’s time to see this. It’s time for the Irish to show this.
Then again, the best time all weekend will be at 12:38 Saturday afternoon outside of Alumni Hall.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 27, USC 13
Senior Sports Writer
Records can be thrown out. Past performances don’t matter. In the first night game in Notre Dame Stadium in two decades against heated rival USC, what should happen and what will happen aren’t even in the same area code.
The Irish have had two weeks to prepare, and Brian Kelly will have his team schematically prepared. But schematic preparation and mental readiness haven’t always gone hand-in-hand this season, and with emotions higher in this game than any other, Notre Dame will need to be focused and ready to play.
But the Irish should be able to score — they haven’t really struggled to move the ball against anyone this season — and that means it will be up to the defense to seal the victory.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 31, USC 30
Associate Sports Editor
First home night game in 21 years. BCS aspirations still alive. 17 official visits from blue-chip prospects.
Yeah, this weekend means a lot to Notre Dame.
While this is not the intimidating crew that former Trojans coach Pete Carroll led just a few years ago, USC is still very talented. Junior quarterback Matt Barkley and receiver Robert Woods form the best passing duo in the country and present a formidable challenge for the Irish secondary.
However, the effect of having a bye week prior to this game should not be overlooked. Irish coach Brian Kelly is 12-1 after a bye week during his coaching career, which includes last year’s 28-3 win over Utah.
With two weeks to prepare, Kelly undoubtedly left no stone unturned and it will show in an Irish victory.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 31, USC 24
Assistant Managing Editor
Two years ago, Pete Carroll and freshman quarterback Matt Barkley strolled into South Bend and tallied the Trojans’ eighth straight victory over Notre Dame. After exorcising their demons on Trojan soil last year, the Irish welcome a seasoned vet in Barkley and second-year coach Lane Kiffin with the opportunity to start a streak that finally favors Notre Dame.
Saturday night will be everything the loss to Michigan was to Wolverine fans. The first night game in 21 years, the debut of the stunning gold helmets and an opportunity to reclaim the national spotlight alone make this a must-watch contest. The two teams match up evenly. The USC defense and premier receiver Robert Woods should keep the game tight to the very end. But with Carroll gone, I give the edge to Kelly and his staff in a game that may come down to one bold move.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 31, USC 24