Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. USC Trojans Game Preview

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Joe Broback

Contributor at Champion Insiders
Joe is a writer covering the NFL, NBA, NHL and college football. He also currently writes for SB Nation’s Underdog Dynasty, covering the American Athletic Conference since 2016. Joe enjoys collecting shoes, playing sports, and anything fitness related.
Joe Broback
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USC’s already experienced a roller coaster season through the first five games. If you’re a USC Trojans fan, you know your team can beat good teams, but also know they’ve been inconsistent. The road hasn’t been kind, but the pressure will be on their opponent. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish still have playoff aspirations, but they’ll need help. They face the pressure of needing to win every game on their schedule, which could play in USC’s favor.

Date: Saturday, October 12th
Start time: 6:30pm CT
How to watch: NBC
Line: Notre Dame -10.5
Location: Notre Dame Stadium (Notre Dame, IN)

USC Trojans players to watch

WR Michael Pittman Jr
QB Kedon Slovis
DE Drake Jackson
WR Tyler Vaughns

Notre Dame Fighting Irish players to watch

QB Ian Book
WR Chase Claypool
S Alohi Gilman
DE Julian Okwara

USC Trojans keys to the game

  • Keep Slovis upright
  • Put the pressure on Notre Dame
  • Handle the road atmosphere

Notre Dame Fighting Irish keys to the game

  • Get after the quarterback
  • Let playmakers work
  • Dominate early

Why USC wins

We’ve seen what the Trojans can do against top competition, but we’ve yet to see them win a road game. USC’s 0-2 on the road, and 3-0 at home. It’s tough to beat Notre Dame, but not impossible. It all starts with protecting the quarterback. Slovis returns from concussion protocol, but the Trojans need him to stay healthy. He’s done well getting the ball to his receivers, and Pittman, Vaughns, and Amon-Ra St. Brown will give the Irish secondary all they can handle. Disrupting Notre Dame’s flow offensively will be the task for the defense, and putting pressure on the Irish early and often will help the Trojans play relaxed and loose.

Why Notre Dame wins

Believe it or not, a second consecutive playoff appearance isn’t out of the question. It’s a long shot, but it’s still possible for Notre Dame. Certain things need to happen, but none of them matter if the Irish lose another game. Beating USC becomes to most important task at hand. Notre Dame’s defense can have a tremendous impact on the game if they pressure Slovis and knock him down frequently. Limiting the Trojans offense continues to be the best way to beat them. Ian Book and the Irish offense need to do their part too, and any struggles on either side could have large affects on how tense this team gets.


All of the pressure is on Notre Dame, and USC has nothing to lose. Slovis’ effectiveness goes a long way in determining the game, and he must stay healthy. USC’s the underdog, and needs to play like it. They’re capable of beating teams like Notre Dame, but they’ll need to play a complete game. Their performances on the road have left something to be desired, so we’ll have to wait and see if they can pull it off. NOTRE DAME 35 USC 21

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