USC Trojans at Notre Dame Fighting Irish Expert Picks with Odds and Betting Predictions
USC Trojans at Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Saturday Oct. 21, 7:30 p.m. ET
This is one of the iconic rivalries in college football, but due to the struggles of one or both teams at times over the last few years this is the first time it has really mattered in too long. Each team has just one loss, both are ranked in the Top 16, and a win here is going to be a big boost to the postseason chances of either squad. This is a must-win game for both programs, which is exactly what games like this should be.
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USC at Notre Dame Betting Storylines
We've been talking a lot about USC in these parts this year. And they don't entirely deserve it. They came into the season with massive expectations piled upon them, and they just haven't lived up to them fully. They have been fine - they have only one less - but they have been far from dominant, and Sam Darnold has looked nothing like the Heisman favorite he was when the season began. Injuries have been a factor, but more significantly the team just hasn't looked as well coached and prepared as they should be - which is no surprise given the boneheaded process they went through in choosing their latest coach. They could have hired their choice of prominent or fast-rising coaches, so choosing to stay in house with Clay Helton is one of the least-inspired and imagination-lacking moves one could imagine - like hiring Ed Orgeron at LSU and then being surprised that the Tigers aren't at their best. The chance to reverse that perception and make a statement here is very real, but relying on Helton to deliver that is far from a comforting thought. They beat up on Oregon State two back, but that is sandwiched by a loss to a Washington State team that was exposed completely last week and a win by a single point against Utah that only held because the Utes tried and failed to go for two at the end of the game instead of playing for overtime. They can't be coming into this huge test at full confidence.
It's not like Notre Dame comes storming into this one, either. They have mostly won more decisively, but the challenge is that their schedule is really backloaded. They have played two interesting games with split results - losing at home to Georgia and beating up on a Michigan State team that went on to beat Michigan. The rest of their schedule has proved nothing. They are facing a USC defensive front that is the strength of their team, and they are a team that relies very heavily on the run - their 308 yards per game ranks fifth in the country. Georgia only allowed 55 yards on the ground, so the blueprint to stop them certainly exists, and the Trojans will have to rely on that heavily here if they want to be the second high-profile team to leave South Bend with a win this year. Notre Dame has gone well over a month without getting punched in the mouth. USC needs to hit them early and often, because I don't have a whole lot of faith that this team can stand up against that kind of challenge. If they can, they haven't had t prove it this year.
USC at Notre Dame Odds and Betting Trends
The game opened with Notre Dame favored by 4.5. That number dropped almost instantly to 4 and has since dropped further to 3.5 . Two-thirds of bets have been on the Irish, so the movement strongly suggests that sharp money is hitting the Trojans hard. The total opened at 60 and has climbed quickly to 65.
USC is just 7-17 ATS in their last 24 road games against teams with winning home records. They are 3-9 ATS in their last 12 road games and 1-4 ATS in their last five against teams with winning records. They have failed to cover their last five spreads overall. The Irish are 4-0 ATS in their last four overall. They are coming off a bye week, and are 8-3 ATS in their last 11 games following a week off.
USC at Notre Dame Predictions and Picks
I find the idea of picking a side in this one about as appealing as choosing how I would like to die. There are things to like about both teams and more things to cause skepticism. I'd love for this number to drop to three, but even if it doesn't the correct pick has to be Notre Dame. They are at home, which is huge. They have had an extra week to get ready for this one. USC has looked rough in their last two real games, and even an imperfect Notre Dame team can test them in significant ways. Notre Dame is the pick.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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