Through the first few weeks of the NCAA football season, Notre Dame was looking like it could be one of the better schools in the country, aside from a massive amount of turnovers and penalties that kept them from winning key ball games. Since then they’ve broken off four wins in a row, including a beatdown of Michigan State, but just what Fighting Irish team will show up against the USC Trojans?
SB Nation’s Bill Connelly wrote a great piece previewing this game, highlighting what the Irish’s should do against the struggling Trojan’s D, and just what hope USC might have to win this game:
1) Their best defensive game was their last one. They sacked Zach Maynard three times and picked him off twice, allowing an admittedly schizophrenic offense almost nothing easy. They slowed Cal down, and they turned the Golden Bears over like teams were able to turn Notre Dame over earlier in the season.
If the Trojans can somehow make the Irish more one-demential on offense, they can turn to their own offense to try and turn up the heat.
2) The Trojans can move the ball, too. They are in or on the cusp of the Top 25 in quite a few offensive categories — 26th in Off. F/, 32nd in Passing S&P+, and while the Notre Dame defense ranks 13th in overall Def. F/+, their glitches have been damaging. The USC defense probably won’t need to hold the Irish under 20 points to win the game. They will, however, need to hold them under 40.
If the turnover-committing, lackluster-playing Notre Dame team of the first few weeks of the season returns, the Trojans may pull the upset out in South Bend, but if the domineering Irish team of late shows up, it might be a long day for Lane Kiffen and his boys.