Predictions: Notre Dame vs. USC
Observer Sports Staff | Thursday, October 15, 2015
Greg Hadley, Editor-in-Chief
With the recent turmoil surrounding the Trojans off the field, there seems to be a growing sentiment in certain circles that perhaps USC will come out angry and play inspired against the Irish, free from the uncertainty and controversy that plagued them under Steve Sarkisian. Maybe USC might even push Notre Dame to the limit. After all, the Trojans have plenty of talent. But this school of thought flies in the face of common sense. Even if the Trojans are better off without Sarkisian, their preparations this week had to be hindered by the uncertainty and turnover. Meanwhile, the Irish are coming off a solid win over Navy and have revenge on their mind after last season’s rout. Under the lights, with plenty of pressure to not just beat USC but rout it, Notre Dame will start slow, as always, but power away in the second half.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 38, USC 21
Mary Green, Assistant Managing Editor
On paper, it might appear Notre Dame should have this one in the bag: USC is led by a new coach, at least for the interim, and its starting center is out for the year, adding another wrench to the season.
But Brian Kelly said, if anything, that could be a unifying factor for a Trojans team with a lot of pride, so the Irish will still have to put up a good fight to keep the playing of “Fight On” at bay.
That shouldn’t be too big a problem for Notre Dame, unless the transition from a triple-option offense to a more conventional one is more difficult than expected, which has been the case a few times the last few seasons.
However, the Irish will pull away for a relatively worry-free win to cruise into the bye week.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 34, USC 17
Zach Klonsinski, Sports Editor
Notre Dame has gotten into a recent slump of slow starts, and that should scare Irish fans. USC, despite all the turmoil that took place out west this week, still has an elite crop of talent, and if you give them some momentum, the Trojans will be able to capitalize on it.
That said, the Irish have every reason to buck that recent trend and come out fired up this week. It’s a must-win game if they want to keep their hopes alive for the College Football Playoff, campus will be full of energy, it’s a night game, and you better believe the coaching staff has posted “49-14” on every possible open space all week.
Look for the Irish to make a statement under the lights Saturday night.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 41, USC 24
Alex Carson, Associate Sports Editor
Realistically, this game should go one of two ways. Playing on a cold, Midwestern night at the end of a tumultuous, emotionally-challenging week, USC doesn’t come close to putting its best foot forward. That’s the first.
The other scenario is the opposite. With a rivalry game after a week of intense media attention, the Trojans come in and play their best football of the year, showcasing the talent that earned them a preseason No. 6 ranking.
I think it’ll be the latter, and with the issues Notre Dame has had the week after Navy under Brian Kelly, this game has the makings of one that will go down to the wire.
Like he did at Virginia, DeShone Kizer will have to step up to win this game late for Notre Dame. And like he did at Virginia, he’ll deliver.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 24, USC 21
Brian Plamondon, Sports Writer
Notre Dame doesn’t have a very good track record post-Navy: In the past eight years, the Irish are 2-6. It’s not just Notre Dame, however, as last season, teams that had a game the week after Navy went a combined 1-7.
With the Steve Sarkisian and Max Tuerk news hitting USC this week, Notre Dame couldn’t have caught the Trojans at a better time.
Look for Sheldon Day to wreak havoc up the middle, putting pressure on USC’s Cody Kessler and giving the Irish secondary a chance against a talented crop of receivers.
On offense, the friendly confines of Notre Dame Stadium will be huge for DeShone Kizer in a big rivalry game. Forget fancy stats, my gut says the Irish should take care of business and enact revenge from last year.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 38, USC 24