Notre Dame-USC: Team Wire Staff Predictions

·4 min read

Notre Dame and USC renew one of college football’s best rivalries Saturday night after having to take the 2020 season off due to the pandemic. Notre Dame enters at 5-1 with hopes of earning a spot in a New Year’s Six bowl while USC sits at 3-3, looking for their next head coach, but winners of their last eight road contests.

The last USC road loss?

You guessed it – October 13, 2019 at Notre Dame.

So what happens Saturday night between a 5-1 Notre Dame that might be good but is plenty flawed and a USC team that is anything but just another .500 squad? Here is what the staff writers at both Fighting Irish and Trojans Wires see happening:

Matt Zemek of Trojans Wire

Matt Zemek is the editor of our sister site that covers Southern Cal, Trojans Wire. Matt’s been great the last two weeks to talk all things Notre Dame and Southern Cal about both currently and historically. He was kind enough to give us the following prediction for Saturday:

USC has been blown out at home by Stanford, Oregon State, and Utah. The Trojans’ three wins are against teams which have either performed terribly this year (San Jose State, which still has talent on defense), are undeniably mediocre (Washington State), or are undeniably awful (Colorado). USC hasn’t beaten a single good team this year. Why expect anything to change now? Notre Dame will actually not have to go down to the wire for once in 2021.

Prediction: Notre Dame 38, USC 20

Geoffrey Clark - Fighting Irish Wire

Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

There will be offense in this game as both teams are equipped to make big plays in that regard. If we were going by offense alone, I would say the Trojans have enough of an advantage that they might actually win. However, the Irish have proven to be just a little more effective on defense, and it helps to have an NFL-bound safety in Kyle Hamilton. This won’t be a blowout, but the Irish will make just enough plays to make the difference, and I’m talking almost by the skin of their teeth.

Prediction: Notre Dame 27, USC 24

Mike Chen of Fighting Irish Wire

Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Rivalry games are always difficult to predict, the hatred between the Irish and Trojans is evident. On one hand, the Irish are coming off a bye, have a quarterback controversy (even if Brian Kelly won’t admit it) and have a few big time players (Michael Mayer and Chris Tyree) dinged up. The other hand is USC, an absolute mess this year, firing Clay Helton after their first two games, also can’t settle in on a quarterback and have struggled to a 3-3 record. For years, USC has underperformed, and this year is the same. Individually, it’s the Drake’s, hybrid defender Jackson and wide receiver London, who are viewed as potential 1st round NFL Draft picks. Fortunately for the Irish, football is the ultimate team game and that’s exactly what USC isn’t, a team. The Irish will have to fight all four quarters to come away with the win, but they will eventually come out on top.

Prediction: Notre Dame 31 USC 24

Jeff Feyerer of Fighting Irish Wire

Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

My confidence in this Irish team is insanely low, yet my excitement for USC week remains high. This Trojan team being more than capable of crashing and burning in South Bend helps. The Irish defense will be the strongest unit on either side by far. Drake London is the only player I’m worried about for the Trojans, but I don’t expect Kyle Hamilton and the boys will be giving them much breathing room. The up and down nature of the Irish offense is still concerning, but if Kyren Williams can hit on a few runs and Jack Coan can hit a few big plays here or there, the net positive will be a win. We may not see a pretty win and we may not see one all year, but they have a toughness USC doesn’t have and in South Bend in late October, that counts for something.

Prediction: Notre Dame 31 USC 20

Nick Shepkowski of Fighting Irish Wire:

USA TODAY Networks

Unless something like what happened late against Wisconsin happened, Notre Dame simply isn’t capable of blowing teams out and this rivalry isn’t a series where that happens much, anyway (unless Pete Carroll is involved). I trust Notre Dame’s defense to not let Drake London beat them, and don’t trust USC’s defense to make the necessary few plays to be in position to steal this game. Although I’m sure London still get solid yardage, USC finishing drives will be another story. I trust Notre Dame to not beat themselves while I can’t say the same for the Trojans who have made it a habit in recent years.

Prediction: Notre Dame 27, USC 21

More Notre Dame-USC Content:

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Notre Dame-USC: Fun facts about epic rivalry

The 16 coaches to be named to midseason Coach of the Year award watchlist

Notre Dame’s statistical leaders through six games

College Football Experts Predict Notre Dame-USC outcome

ESPN FPI projects each remaining Notre Dame game, including USC

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