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The No. 10 USC Trojans are in for their toughest test of the year on Saturday when they take on the No. 21 Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
|No. 10 USC||+3 (-115)||+122||Over 59 (-110)|
|No. 21 Notre Dame||-3 (-105)||-145||Under 59 (-110)|
USC’s team starts (and largely ends) with Williams. The 6-foot-1 junior averages 303.7 yards per game and has racked up 28 total touchdowns and only one interception while producing an 86.2 QBR (eighth in Division-I).
MarShawn Lloyd leads the backfield with 519 yards and four touchdowns. A pair of receivers (Tahj Washington and Brenden Rice) have eclipsed 400 yards on the season and have 12 touchdowns between them.
USC’s defense, just like it was last year, is the concern. They’ve surrendered 27 points per game (t-76th) despite not yet playing a ranked opponent and are 90th in rush defense (157 ypg) and 113th in pass defense (264.3 ypg).
On the other side of the coin is Notre Dame. The Irish might have two losses on their resume, but they’ve played three straight-ranked opponents (losing to two) and are much more battle-tested than the Trojans.
QB Sam Hartman is the man who makes everything tick for Notre Dame. The Wake Forest transfer averages 244.6 yards per game and has 18 total touchdowns to three interceptions. However, his numbers dropped to 217 ypg, three touchdowns, and three interceptions against ranked opponents.
Running back Audric Estime is regarded as the best at his position in the country and has 692 yards and seven scores to date.
The Notre Dame defense has allowed the third-fewest passing yards per game (146.6) but will get its best test of the year in the form of Williams. The Irish are also 15th in points surrendered (15.9 per game) but are only 62nd in third-down defense, while USC is 47th in offense conversion rate.
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There’s a lot of speculation that this could be a win for Notre Dame who, despite being favored, does not necessarily hold the same name-brand value because of Williams’ presence on the other side of the field.
However, we think USC will cover and has a great chance to win. We’ve seen the 2022 Heisman winner pull the rabbit out of the hat too many times for us to turn our backs on him now, especially since Notre Dame has not looked like the same team against ranked opposition.
The obvious concern is that USC’s defense will get run all over and leave the offense with no hope. Those concerns are valid, but this Notre Dame offense is not a bludgeoning unit that can dominate bad defenses. Notre Dame is also yet to have a week off, unlike USC.
USC will need to get Estime on the ground to keep itself in a position to win. They struggle to tackle runners in the open field but are solid at the point of attack thanks to defensive tackle Bear Alexander.
There’s a simple line of logic to follow. If the total goes over, USC has a better chance to win, and if it stays under, Notre Dame has a better chance to win.
To us, USC’s offensive excellence and defensive weaknesses are both more likely to show their faces than Notre Dame’s strong defense and average offense.
This line has already been bet down from around 63 or 64 points to 59. USC has already hit the over in five of six outings this season, so despite us anticipating that Notre Dame will try to slow the game down by running the ball, we think the over is the right play.
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Grant is a sports and sports betting journalist who prides himself on delivering breaking news and insightful analyses of the industry. Grant graduated from Virginia Tech in 2021 and is feverishly pursuing his ambitions in the sports betting field.
In his free time, Grant can be found passionately watching sports, doing a workout, or searching for adventure with his friends.More info on Grant Mitchell
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