Staff Predictions: USC
Observer Sports Staff | Friday, October 11, 2019
Charlotte Edmonds — Managing Editor
After a rather uneventful win over Bowling Green that saw half the student section empty after halftime, Notre Dame stadium will be ready for the Trojans. This season’s home schedule has not given fans much to talk about and this is definitively the peak of the season in South Bend. While USC certainly improved their odds with the reintroduction of freshman quarterback Kedon Slovis to the lineup after having suffered a concussion two and a half weeks ago, there’s no reason that Notre Dame shouldn’t have this one covered pretty handily.
The Trojans greatest strength on the offensive side of the ball is their ability to get the ball downfield with some key receiving targets. While they may be able to pick up some yardage at times, don’t expect the Notre Dame secondary to waver at this point. They’re too good and too hungry. Slovis simply won’t be able to produce the offense to overcome this defense.
FINAL: Notre Dame: 42, USC 24
Connor Mulvena — Sports Editor
The Bowling Green victory last week was bigger than it may appear for the Irish. Not only was it a confidence booster, especially for Ian Book, but it also proved that when it comes to lower tier teams, the Irish can basically choose how much they want to win by. And that seems to be a characteristic that most in the nation consider to be a part of an elite team’s resume (see: Ohio State). This is obviously a timeless rivalry matchup, so anything can happen on a primetime stage like that. But, just as they did last year, the Irish outmatch the Trojans, except this time at home. The Trojans will be starting true freshman Kedon Slovis at quarterback, and although Slovis has proven to be extremely talented, especially when it comes to accuracy, he has been out with an injury for a little while and he’s coming to South Bend for the first time in his career. That’s a deadly duo that the Notre Dame back five, which is one of the best units in the nation, should be able to capitalize on.
I see the Irish struggling a bit offensively to start the game. I think Book will take a little while to get into a rhythm under the lights, but I think the defense will shut down the Trojans and feed off the hype of the environment. I see a commanding win for Notre Dame.
FINAL: Notre Dame 28, USC 6
Hayden Adams — Associate Sports Editor
In my opinion, Notre Dame benefits more from having a tune-up game last week against Bowling Green than USC does from their bye week. It is sure to be a heated matchup against the archival Trojans, especially with wide receiver Michael Pittman starting the trash talk by saying “It’ll be fun when we’re running up the score” in South Bend. All due respect, but that’s the kind of cockiness that gets you embarrassed.
I don’t doubt the threat the Trojans pose. It’s a rivalry game, anything can happen, especially with a receiving corps as talented as USC possesses. Not to mention the Trojans predominantly underclassman defense, but you’re telling me that they’ve got a true freshman quarterback — who will not have gotten game minutes in three weeks — coming into a Green-Out on a 40-degree night in South Bend and you expect him to win that game? USC is averaging 137.2 rushing yards per game and only three running backs have gotten carries for the Trojans all year, so without a strong ground game, their receivers won’t make enough plays against a talented Irish secondary. Clay Helton is fighting for his job, but he’ll come up short.
FINAL: Notre Dame 38, USC 24
Ellen Geyer — Sports Writer
It’s no secret that I’m an eternal pessimist when it comes to Notre Dame football. But last week’s rout of Bowling Green? Sheesh! That’s a version of the Irish I didn’t know existed.
We thought Notre Dame was fired up after Georgia, but how about after their first shutout since 2014? If that doesn’t set the tone for the rest of the season, then I really don’t know what will.
This is a rivalry. It’s a night game. The result has very real implications for the playoff picture.
Notre Dame has been established on the defensive side for awhile, but last week the Irish seemed to finally find their stride in the receiving corp. I’ll admit I’m still a little skeptical about the run game, but the anticipated return of Jafar Armstrong this week will answer a lot of the questions I’ve had so far this season. After watching Notre Dame dismantle Michigan under the lights last year, USC should be nervous about this one.
FINAL: Notre Dame 35, USC 13
Jack Concannon — Sports Writer
If Georgia’s ground-and-pound style was a nightmare matchup for the Irish and their young front seven, USC feels like the opposite. If there is any secondary in college football that can find answers for wide receivers Michael Pittman and Amon-Ra St. Brown, it’s the Irish. Troy Pride is coming off of a great week against Bowling Green, just like everyone on the Irish defense after the shutout. The Irish defense is up to the task, while the USC defense has given up at least 20 points in each of their games up to now.
USC is also 0-2 on the road so far. It should be a great environment in South Bend, with temperatures in the forties. USC quarterback Kedon Slovis is making his first start in cold weather (by USC standards) in his life in the most hostile environment he has ever appeared in. He will need to channel 2017 Jake Fromm to get a win in these conditions, and I just don’t think he has that in him. The Irish start fast on defense and cover the spread for the fourth-straight week.
FINAL: Notre Dame 35 USC 17