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ND vs USC: Who You Got? The Tribune Staff Predicts Who Wins

By Mike Stacey

Photo Credit: Fan Attic Sports Network



Now that the turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, pies and adult beverages have digested and our glucose levels are beginning to level out, It is time to talk about ND vs USC. The game tomorrow night at 7:30pm in LA at the Coliseum will mark the 93rd time these two programs have faced off in this storied rivalry. Notre Dame holds the edge with a 48-36-5 record against the Trojans and a current 4 game winning streak. However, USC comes into

this year's matchup as a -4.5 favorite as of the time of this article.



USC will enter this contest with a 10-1 record and ranked 6th in the country according to the playoff committee rankings. For USC, this game is more than just a rivalry for the coveted Jeweled Shillelagh Trophy, it is also a must win to continue their journey to the College Playoff. USC is searching for their first playoff appearance since it's birth in 2014.


(Notre Dame has 2 appearances, no big deal).This game also has significant implications for the Fighting Irish who aside from trying to play spoiler and win their biggest rivalry game of the year, is still fighting for a possible New Year's 6 bowl appearance in Marcus Freeman's first year as head coach. The Irish enter this game ranked 15th in the country with an 8-3 record.



Needless to say, this is a huge game that will have a major ripple effect across the college football landscape. Even with Notre Dame being out of the playoff hunt, they are still a major player, with their performance and the result of this game effecting so many teams playoff fate. Teams like Ohio State and Clemson will be as big of Notre Dame fans tomorrow night as the rest of us. Not only to knock USC out of the hunt, but to also improve their strength of schedule as they make their own bids for a playoff berth.



So, as the title asks, who you got? We would love to see everyone's predictions in the comment section! But first, let's take a look at what the Irish Tribune team thinks:


Luciano Antonini- Founder and CEO


Notre Dame will put on a similar show against USC as they did against Clemson...kind of. The Irish jump to a 2-3 possession lead at the half. USC will make a good effort to come back, but will run out of time doing so via a Benjamin Morrison interception that seals the deal, it’s bound to happen. USC has not faced a defense as good as Notre Dame’s, and that will show on Saturday. I’ll also predict some form of a Brian Mason special; maybe a muffed punt, exceptional kickoff coverage, or our favorite…a blocked punt.


Final Prediction:

Notre Dame- 34

USC- 24


Nicholas Kremer- Editor


The greatest intersectional rivalry in college football. The battle for the Jewelled Shillelagh. Notre Dame vs USC. This is what college football is all about. Both the Irish and the Trojans are coming into the game with a lot of momentum, and a lot at stake. USC will be playing for a playoff spot, and the Irish will be playing to cap off the first season under Marcus Freeman.This is set up to be a classic in Southern California.

For Notre Dame to win this game, the Irish have to avoid getting behind early and avoid a shootout type of game. On offense, the Notre Dame running game has to be firing on all cylinders. Our Offensive Line against their DLine is a mismatch, so I look for a heavy dose of Estime and Diggs throughout this game. Pyne needs to play game manager; make smart decisions with the football, and attack downfield 2-3 times.

On defense, I expect Al Golden to bring a variety of blitz concepts and stunts to make Caleb Williams uncomfortable. This will be the best pass defense that USC and Caleb Williams have faced all year, and I expect them to play very well, even without Cam Hart. Finally, the Irish have to find 1-2 momentum changing plays in the form of special teams, turnovers, or a chunk play on offense.

Overall, if Notre Dame can control the clock, play ball-control to keep the USC offense off the field, make Caleb Williams uncomfortable, and get one or two momentum-changing plays, the Irish will come out on top.

Final Prediction:

Notre Dame - 34

USC - 31


Mike Stacey-Writer


As has been the case with many games this year, I find myself struggling to come up with a prediction. If the ND team who lost to Stanford and Marshall shows up on Saturday then USC will win this game in a route. If the ND team that played Clemson and North Carolina shows up, ND will win this game rather easily.


This whole season has been tough to predict with seemingly two different ND squads playing throughout it. That being said, as of lately Notre Dame has shown MUCH more consistency and promise. I think Notre Dame should and will dominate both sides of the line of scrimmage. I think our running game will continue to put up big numbers with our 3 headed monster and our defensive line will harass Caleb Williams to the point of a couple turnovers. Ultimately, Notre Dame's physicality will be the difference. (So I pray)


Final Prediction:

Notre Dame- 38

USC- 27


Murray O'Connell- Writer


As much as I want to say Notre Dame will win, I think the quarterback play will ultimately be the deciding factor. As strong as Drew Pyne has looked, at times, throughout the season, I’m not convinced he will be able to consistently out duel Heisman hopeful Caleb Williams. Southern Cal has not defeated the Irish since 2016 and they just feel due to me. However, fear not Irish fans, every game I’ve predicted this season has gone 180 degrees completely in the opposite direction. It wouldn’t hurt my feelings if this streak continues.


Final Prediction:

USC- 30

Notre Dame- 24


Chris Studer- Writer


Look for the Irish to run with our three headed monster in the backfield. Audric needs to have 10 plus touches in this game. Tommy Rees and Drew Pyne should look to have long sustained drives against this USC defense. The Irish need to keep Caleb Williams and Co on the sideline. Especially the talented Addison. Look for Morrison and his ball hawking skills to snag a timely INT. Mayer gets a TD in what could be his final game in an Irish jersey.


Final Prediction:

Notre Dame-31

USC-27


Liam Farrell- Writer


The contest between the Trojans and the Irish will be won in the battle between Notre Dame’s

defensive line going up against the Trojans’ offensive line. In past years, USC has combatted the dominance of the Irish’s front 7 by throwing short, quick passes to halt the threat of Notre

Dame’s pass rush. The play of Notre Dame’s linebackers will also be vital by being able to

decipher the RPOs that the Trojans’ offense so heavily relies on. On the other side of the ball,

Notre Dame needs to run the ball at will. USC’s defense has been gashed in the second half of the season, so the three-headed monster of Diggs, Tyree, and Estime must continue this trend. I see this game being close all the way through, but a special teams spark play, whether it be a big return by the Irish or a missed field goal by the Trojans, will shift the momentum in the way of the good guys. Notre Dame plays spoiler to USC’s championship hopes as the Irish come to Los Angeles and snag a 14-point victory.


Final Prediction:

Notre Dame- 38

USC- 24


Donnie Shapaka- Writer


The Irish will run early and often, controlling the line of scrimmage. I believe Rees will incorporate the passing game out of a two or three tight end set. I think the Irish will have success throwing the football against a USC defense that is weak.


Finale Prediction:

Notre Dame- 42

USC- 28





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