The Irish are one again playing a prime time game against a top opponent, USC, on the road. It has been a bumpy road for Marcus Freeman in his first full season as the Notre Dame head coach but during the second half of the year, he seems to have righted the ship and the future looks bright. This game give Freeman and his team one more chance at a big exclamation point to end the regular season. Here are a few statistical projections for the Irish against the Trojans this evening.
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The Irish hold Caleb Williams under 300 total yards
Just four times this year has Williams been held to under 300 total offensive yards, against Fresno State, Oregon State, Washington State, and Colorado. It’s easy to make an argument that Notre Dame’s defense is much better than any of those four teams. It’s not going to be easy to do, but there aren’t many other defenses across the country that are playing at the Irish’s level right now. It is going to take all three levels of Al Golden’s defense to stop Williams and I think they can and will hold him to under 300 total offensive yards.
Drew Pyne throws for 200 yards
The focus for the Trojan defense will be to stop the run, so Pyne is going to be given some room to move the ball through the air. Offensive coordinator Tommy Rees calls his best game of the year, mixing the run and a good amount of play-action passes and a few screens here and there. That mix will help Pyne go over the 200 yard mark, especially with conditions being much more favorable for throwing unlike last week.
Foskey brings down Williams twice
This game will feature two of the best pass rushers in the country, Notre Dame’s Isaiah Foskey and USC’s Tuli Tuipulotu. It will be Foskey who shines in this affair, as he out duels Tuipulotu and ties him with 11.5 sacks on the year, which currently leads the nation. Of the two, it is Foskey who might have the harder job, as the USC line is a finalist for the Joe Moore award, but it won’t matter this evening.
Mayer scores twice
With my expectation that Pyne is going to throw for 200 yards, his main target is going to be Michael Mayer. The star tight end is going to be a benefactor all night but his biggest impact is going to be finding the end zone. Mayer had a solid game against BC, but he’s going to tear apart the USC secondary. He is going to prove that he is the best tight end in the country once again, catching multiple passes with two of them going for scores.
The Irish outscore USC
This is really the only stat that matters at the end of the day and if you looked over our staff picks, we like the Irish to find a way to get the win. This is the game where the Irish put everything together. Over the course of the year, they have gotten better and better. They are peaking at the right time and will show it tonight against USC.