USC Trojans (4-2 SU, 2-4 ATS) vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (4-2 SU, 1-41 ATS)
College Football Week 8
Date and Time: Saturday, October 19, 7:30pm
Where: Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, Indiana
by Bob, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: USC +3/ND -3
Over/Under Total: 47
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This Saturday will mark the 85th contest between the USC Trojans
and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. This rivalry is ranked by many in college
football’s top five due to the tradition of both universities and the great
battles that took place over the years with national title implications.
This season doesn’t appear to be a battle for any BCS title hopes, but both
programs come in with lots of pride and never want to lose to their rival.
Notre Dame leads the all-time series 44-35-5 but USC has won nine of the
last eleven matchups, including the last five played in South Bend. Last
season, the Irish won a close 22-13 game on their way to a BCS title game
appearance. Notre Dame opens as a three point favorite at home. Both teams
enter the contest at 4-2 overall but Notre Dame has the edge as far as strength
of schedule goes thus far. The Irish have already played three teams ranked
in the nation’s top twenty, but both of their losses came in those matchups.
Their only ranked win was over Arizona State 37-34. Be prepared for a hard
fought game that looks like it should come down to the final moments.
The Trojans are a much improved team from last season, or so it seems so far. Don’t get me wrong, they have a lot of work to do before they get back to the standard USC is used to, but they are making strides in the right direction. After firing coach Lane Kiffin immediately following the beatdown they received from Arizona State, they bounced back to defeat the Arizona Wildcats under the leadership of interim coach Ed Orgeron. USC has not really had their signature win this season, so a win in South Bend would sure boost some confidence in southern Cal. The Trojans are not really impressive in any certain area, they come in pretty mediocre in every way. They are ranked 41st in scoring defense, and 39th in offensive rushing yards. In every other major statistical category, they don’t crack the nations top 70. The key to this game for USC is to keep it close and win the 4th quarter. Ball security and defense will also play a huge role. I don’t see this game being extremely high scoring so any points you can get will help. I think USC has a real shot to win this game if they keep the mistakes to a minimum and force Notre Dame to have to make plays late.
Notre Dame, just like USC, comes into this game with a record of 4-2 overall. Notre Dame went a perfect 12-0 in last year’s regular season, but have taken a minor step back this season. With losses already to Michigan (41-30), and Oklahoma (35-21), the Irish find themselves out of any national title talks, but there is still a lot to play for this season. Notre Dame could win out and potentially get a BCS Bowl bid…unlikely yes, but it is still a goal worth shooting for. Notre Dame is a lot like USC in that they don’t do anything particularly well. They are very average in many ways. I will point out however, that Notre Dame has played the tougher schedule so the comparison could be a little skewed. Notre Dame will try to use the passing game to their advantage early on. They have not had much success running the ball, so if they can get the air attack going, they should be ok.
Again, Notre Dame is the home favorite in this game with a three point line. The Irish have only covered one spread this season and yet the public is pounding them in this game. As of right now, 71% of the Vegas action is on Notre Dame, while just 29% have faith in the Trojans. I would really expect the action to be more even. I am not sure why so many people are fading USC in this game. In recent history, the teams are pretty even against the spread versus one another, with USC getting a slight edge. The numbers really do not favor either team if you try to look at ATS stats. USC has not covered a road spread in their last eight games, while Notre Dame is only covering 35% of the time against winning teams since 1995. There is really no way to know who to lean on this game.
Bob’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I think the firing of Lane Kiffin may have lit a fire under the kids at USC. They were able to put up 38 points on Arizona and get the win just this past week. Being a rivalry game, this is a total toss up. I don’t trust Notre Dame but they again, I am not high on USC either. I am going to base this pick on pure public fade. Take the Trojans +3. Too many people think this is a “gimmie” for the Irish, and that is not the case. Look for a close battle. PICK: USC +3
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