The USC Trojans and Notre Dame Fighting Irish will continue their historic rivalry as Southern Cal travels to Indiana to kick off the 88th all-time meeting between the two historic programs.
USC came out successful last year in a 45-27 victory. The previous eight meetings, dating back to 2009, have been an even split at four games apiece, and the four years have seen the winning side alternate.
If the pattern holds, the Irish should come out on top. But that’s just noise. The game still has to be played, and this one looks great on paper. It’s the first time that this matchup has seen both ranked in the top 25 since 2009. The Trojans come in a #11 while the Irish check in at #13 on the AP Poll.
This is USC’s biggest game up to this point and maybe all regular season. They need a victory, and a good one at that if they hope to challenge for a playoff berth. Notre Dame is 5-1 but could very easily be 6-0 and in the top 10, if not for a one-point loss to number three Georgia. If you are going to lose a game, make sure it’s a one-point loss to arguably the best team in the country after Alabama.
USC has not played a thoroughly clean game yet, and that is why they were heavily penalized after dropping their first game, even considering the circumstances. And it is why they haven’t been rewarded back into the top 10 after two consecutive wins, unlike Oklahoma, who was put back a week after an embarrassing loss to Iowa State at home (although OU only won 29-24 vs. Texas).
SC has made every game closer than it should be and leave it to fourth quarter dramatics too many a time. They just never cover the spread and not to being Vegas into this, but there’s a reason teams are heavily favored, and the best teams cover the spread and then some. They consistently play down to their competition which is not a quality of a great team.
If USC can play an all-around good game by cleaning up the turnovers and other mistakes in a hostile environment against an excellent team and win, the perception of them will finally start to change. It will shift from a team that lucks out because their talent (mainly Sam Darnold) usually squeaks out a victory to a legitimately good team.
This is a massive game because if the Trojans lose, you can kiss the playoffs goodbye. If they win in fashionable style, then the chances get better and maybe the momentum from this game will help propel the men of Troy as the season continues and helps them reach the level they should be playing at.