Why USC Will Beat Notre Dame

By Kate Liming
Nov. 26, 2016

With USC on a roll these last few weeks, defeating major teams like Washington and UCLA, the Trojans are looking to win one more time this season by beating Notre Dame, who are now 4-7 losing recently to Virginia Tech 34-31. The fact that USC is currently 8-3 and has a better record than the Fighting Irish is not the reason why USC will dominate this game. It's the fact that USC is playing their best football since the era of Reggie Bush.

The Trojans were defeated by the Fighting Irish last year 41-31. Notre Dame had scored 17 points in the fourth quarter after USC had scored two touchdowns. This year, the Trojans are expected to win 17 points over the Irish with the help of USC redshirt freshman quarterback, Sam Darnold. USC Coach, Clay Helton had some things to say in preparation for the Irish, "After watching a lot of tape on Notre Dame, you come away feeling their record does not match the personnel that’s on the field right now. When you look at the total story, you see a very dangerous team. You see a team that’s 4-7, but you also see a team that’s lost six games by seven points or less — that seventh game they lost by eight points. They’ve had an opportunity to win each and every game down the stretch."

In five of the last seven meetings between these two teams at the Coliseum, USC has scored at least 38 points. According to ESPN, the Matchup Predictor shows USC having a 85.5% chance of winning this game. It makes sense since USC has only lost 3 games, which were only on in the season, Sam Darnold is one of the best redshirt quarterbacks that we've seen in a while, and the offense has been impeccable with Juju Smith-Schuster, Adoree Jackson and Ronald Jones II.

Notre Dame's defense has been allowing an average of 26.3 points per game. However, six of the seven losses that Notre Dame has endured has been with 7 points. The main strength of Notre Dame’s team is the passing defense, which is ranked 28th nationally by giving up only 195.6 yards a game whereas USC has given up 222.7 yards a game. 

USC is expected to hand Notre Dame its first double-digit loss of the season. If USC beats Notre Dame tomorrow, it will be the 20th time that USC has swept UCLA and Notre Dame in the same season. Since Darnold has become the QB replacing Max Browne, the Trojans are looking to end the season with 8 straight wins. USC has been averaging over 250 yards per game rushing over the last six games, which is why the Trojans are giving Jones more carries. In the last six games, Jones has been able to receive 16 or more carries and has a season total of 893 yards rushed. USC is a possible contender for the Rose Bowl and despite a loss to the Trojans, Notre Dame could possibly get an invite to a bowl game. USC Coach Clay Helton said Tuesday, “We have so much to play for in this game. This is a critical, important game for us.” This is a major reason why USC will play their hearts out for their last regular season game on Saturday against the Fighting Irish. Getting into a bowl game is on the line and it will only give more motivation to the Trojans.