USC vs. Notre Dame Prediction, Game Preview

    USC vs. Notre Dame prediction and game preview. The Fighting Irish look to improve to 6-1 as they host the Trojans in South Bend.

    October 13, 2015

    The USC Trojans (3-2) will face the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (5-1) in their first game without fired head coach Steve Sarkisian. Check out the USC vs. Notre Dame prediction and game preview.

    USC vs. Notre Dame Game Preview


    Date: Saturday, October 17
    Venue: Notre Dame Stadium, Notre Dame, Indiana
    Game Time: 7:30 ET
    Network: NBC

    Follow and/or Contact @Rich Cirminiello

    Why You Need To Care

    The 87th rendition of one of college football’s most storied rivalries will be adding a unique chapter on Saturday night.

    For the second time in the last three years, USC heads into the Notre Dame game with an interim head coach, Clay Helton, who takes over for Steve Sarkisian. Sark was fired on Monday following allegations of alcohol abuse, overshadowing last Thursday’s stunning loss to Washington, the Trojans’ second straight defeat at home.

    Troy still has the requisite talent, but can it rally in South Bend amid the turmoil of an unexpected in-season coaching change?

    No. 14 Notre Dame took its first steps toward recovering from the Week 5 Clemson loss by defeating Navy last Saturday, 41-24.

    The Irish remain in the playoff picture, even if they’ll be in the foreground for the time being. ND figures to be favored in every game leading up to the regular season finale with Stanford, so there’s a chance to gradually climb as other contenders around it stumble.

    Why USC Will Win

    The Trojans have the better quarterback, Cody Kessler, and a defense that’s played real well in all but the Stanford loss.

    Talent isn’t the issue with USC. Senior Kessler will be looking to bounce back and provide more leadership following last week’s rough outing, and WR JuJu Smith-Schuster and backs Tre Madden and Ronald Jones II are playmakers. Plus, Justin Wilcox’s D has evolved into a solid mix of veterans, like NT Antwaun Woods, DT Delvon Simmons and LB Su’a Cravens, and blue-chip underclassmen. Troy is giving up less than four yards a carry, and is capable of slowing down linchpin Irish RB C.J. Prosise.

    Why Notre Dame Will Win

    The Trojans are in disarray … and not just on the sidelines.

    Troy is a mess. It had no answers for the Washington defense last Thursday, and now its best offensive lineman, C Max Tuerk, has been lost for the season. No Tuerk spells problems for Kessler and the rest of the front wall, since the center was the unequivocal group leader. The Irish front seven, particularly DT Sheldon Day and LB Jaylon Smith, will routinely break through and disrupt the USC backfield. And if Week 5 uncovered anything, it’s that the Trojan offense is eminently mortal when there’s traffic in the backfield.

    Player Who Matters

    Can ND QB DeShone Kizer stretch a USC secondary that’s really stepped up its game since the Week 3 loss to Stanford?

    The Trojans have allowed just one touchdown pass and slightly more than 50% of passes to be completed over the last two games. The kids, Adoree’ Jackson, Marvell Tell and Iman Marshall, are beginning to gel. 

    And while Kizer has been steady since becoming the starter, the spectacular moments have been rare. And not coincidentally, star WR Will Fuller’s production has dipped as well. If the Irish want to spring Prosise Saturday, it’ll help immensely if Kizer can connect with Fuller on a couple of early long balls.

    What’s Going To Happen?

    On the road … led by an interim coach … the week after falling to Washington. USC is battling too many forces to get out of South Bend with a much-needed win this weekend.
    Do the Trojans harbor enough talent to defeat Notre Dame? Absolutely. But this is one of those games that transcend the simplicity of unit vs. unit matchups.

    The Irish will be better at the line of scrimmage, with Tuerk’s absence being felt immediately. While Kessler will perform heroically for a spell, he’ll eventually succumb under the weight of the pressures and hurries. Prosise and Day will be the offensive and defensive MVPs, respectively, helping earn payback for last November’s five-touchdown loss in the Coliseum.

    USC vs. Notre Dame Prediction

    Final Score: Notre Dame 31, USC 24, Line: Notre Dame -6.5, o/u: 60.5
    Must See Rating: 5: Trojan War, 1: The Muppets … 4.5

    MORE: College Football Bowl Projections After Week 6


    Have the full Stadium experience

    Watch with friends

    Get rewards

    Join the discussion