The No. 15 Notre Dame Fighting Irish will travel to the west coast to take on the No. 6 USC Trojans on Saturday in a pivotal game that could have college football playoff implications.
Notre Dame (8-3) won its fifth straight last Saturday, a 44-0 shellacking of Boston College. The Irish have put themselves in a position to earn a berth in a New Year’s Six bowl game with a win this week. Running back Logan Diggs rushed for 122 yards and a touchdown while Audric Estime added two more touchdowns on the ground. Notre Dame racked up 281 rushing yards in the game.
USC (10-1) clinched a spot in the Pac-12 championship game after a 48-45 win over UCLA in the battle of Los Angeles and is now aiming for a top-four spot in the College Football Playoff. The Trojans were led by Heisman Trophy contender Caleb Williams, who threw for 470 yards and two touchdowns. Running back Austin Jones had 120 yards and two scores.
Caesars Sportsbook has listed USC as a 5.5-point favorite with an over/under of 64.5
Let’s take a closer look at the odds and trends:
Notre Dame Fighting Irish at USC Trojans
Time/TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, Saturday, ABC
Point spread (from Caesars Sportsbook): USC -5.5
Money line: Notre Dame +175; USC -210
Analysis: The line has dropped slightly from USC -6.5, but the total points number moved from 62.5 to 65.5 at one point before hitting the current number.
Notre Dame has been at its best this season in the big games with wins by double digits over Clemson, North Carolina and Syracuse. The Irish have a chance to spoil USC’s playoff hopes, improve their own bowl projects and possibly knock Williams from the Heisman race in one night, so they will be up for the game.
USC provides a difficult challenge for even the best defenses. Williams is a superstar and a future top NFL pick, and he’ll be throwing to another likely first-round talent in wide receiver Jordan Addison. As good as the Trojans are on offense, they are ranked 64th in the SP+ rankings on defense.
This game is going to be a high-scoring affair. The Irish will stay close and could win if the shootout is done on their terms.