Week Thirteen College Football Picks: #1 Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Southern California Trojans
#1 Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Southern California Trojans
Saturday, November 24, 2012, 8:00 pm Eastern, TV: ABC
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum – Los Angeles, California
Opening Line: Notre Dame -5
Current Line: Notre Dame -5 1/2
Opening Total: 46
Current Total: 45 1/2
Opening Money Line: Notre Dame -240 / USC +195
Current Money Line: Notre Dame -240 / USC +195
At the beginning of the season the USC Trojans were #1 in the pre-season poll, and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish were unranked. Fast forward to the present, and the 11-0 Irish are #1 in the BCS standings while the 7-4 Trojans are just trying to avoid a fifth loss of the season. Notre Dame will likely clinch a berth in the BCS Championship Game with a win thanks to losses by then #1 Kansas St and #2 Oregon last week. If the Trojans pull off the upset, then chaos will ensue as a gaggle of one loss teams jockey for two spots in the championship game.
This is the 84th meeting between Notre Dame and USC. Notre Dame leads the series 43-35-5, but USC is 21-18-4 in L.A. The Trojans have won 9 of the last 10 against the Fighting Irish, including 31-17 last year in South Bend. Six times before USC has defeated a previously unbeaten Notre Dame team, but the last time was in 1980. Notre Dame hadn’t been #1 in the country since 1993 before this year.
Notre Dame is led by coach Brian Kelly, likely National coach of the year. Notre Dame has wins over Navy in Dublin, Ireland 50-10, Miami-(FL) in Chicago 41-3, home wins over Purdue 20-17, Michigan 13-6, Stanford 20-13 in overtime, BYU 17-14, Pitt 29-26 in triple overtime and last week against Wake Forest 38-0. Notre Dame also has road wins at Michigan St 20-3, Oklahoma 30-13, and last week at Boston College 21-6. Notre Dame is 6-5 ATS and the total is 2-9 this season. The Fighting Irish were 23.5 point favorites against Wake Forest and the total was 41.5.
Notre Dame is averaging 419.7 yards per game on offense, including 219 passing yards and 200.7 rushing yards. The Irish are #32 in rushing and #80 in passing nationally. Notre Dame is outscoring teams 27-10 this season. They are #74 in scoring offense, but #2 in scoring defense. Notre Dame is +7 in turnovers this season with 14 giveaways. The Fighting Irish have allowed 15 sacks this season and are averaging 42 penalty yards per game. Notre Dame is 78/160 on third and fourth down conversions and 41/52 scoring in the red zone with 26 touchdowns. Notre Dame has one of the best defenses in the country. The Irish are allowing 287.4 yards per game including 195.2 passing yards and 92.2 rushing yards. Notre Dame is in the top 10 nationally in all categories except passing defense where they are #24. The Irish have forced 32 sacks and 21 turnovers this season. Notre Dame opponents are 61/172 on third and fourth down conversions, and 18/29 scoring in the red zone with 7 touchdowns.
Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson has completed 151 of 256 passes (59%) for 1,918 yards with 11 touchdowns and 5 interceptions, along with 80 carries, 258 yards and 5 touchdowns. Back-up quarterback Tommy Rees has completed 34 of 59 passes for 436 yards, along with 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.He also has a rushing touchdown. Kelly has used Rees in late game situations when the Irish need a score. It is almost like a closer in baseball. Running back Theo Riddick has 160 carries, 734 yards and 4 touchdowns, along with 32 catches for 331 yards and a touchdown. Cierre Wood has 102 carries, 720 yards and 4 touchdowns. George Atkinson III has 49 carries, 346 yards and 5 touchdowns. Tight end Tyler Eifert has 40 catches, 555 yards, and 4 touchdowns. T.J. Jones has 40 catches, 519 yards and 4 touchdowns. Robby Toma will also get some catches. DaVaris Daniels is out indefinitely with a shoulder injury. Five Notre Dame defensive players are listed as questionable or out for Saturday’s game.
USC is 7-4 overall and 5-4 in the Pac 12 under coach Lane Kiffin. The Trojans lost at UCLA last week 38-28 in a battle for the Pac 12 South Division title. The other losses for USC came at Stanford 21-14 and Arizona 39-36 and at home to Oregon 62-51. The Trojans have home wins over Hawaii 49-10, Cal 27-9, Colorado 50-6 and Arizona St 38-17. USC has road wins over Syracuse 42-29 in New Jersey, at Utah 38-28, and Washington 24-14. The Trojans are 3-8 ATS and the total is 5-6 this season. USC was a 4 point favorite in the UCLA game and the total was 64.5.
USC is averaging 467.5 yards per game including, 307 passing yards and 160.5 rushing yards. On defense, the Trojans are allowing 392.2 yards per game including 241.7 passing yards and 150.5 rushing yards. USC is outscoring teams 36-25 this season. The Trojans have forced 29 turnovers this season, and have a turnover margin of 0. USC is averaging 71.2 penalty yards per game. The Trojans have allowed 15 sacks and forced 42 of their own. USC is 71/179 on third and fourth down conversions, and 37/48 scoring in the red zone with 31 touchdowns. Trojan opponents are 57/144 on third and fourth conversions, and 35/44 scoring in the red zone with 25 touchdowns. The Trojans have five defensive/special teams touchdowns.
USC quarterback Matt Barkley has completed 246 of 387 passes (63.6%) for 3,273 yards with 36 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. He has been sacked 14 times this season. Barkley is out with a shoulder injury suffered late in the UCLA game. Redshirt freshman Max Wittek will get the start, but has thrown only 9 passes this season. He does have a touchdown pass though.
Running back Silas Redd has 138 carries, 740 yards and 9 touchdowns, along with 6 catches for 99 yards. He was limited by an ankle injury against UCLA, but is healthier this week. Curtis McNeal has 104 carries, for 658 yards and 2 touchdo0wns, along with 7 catches for 111 yards and a touchdown. D.J. Morgan has 41 carries, 201 yards and a touchdown, along with a touchdown catch for his only reception of the year. He is questionable with a leg injury. Receiver Marqise Lee has 107 catches, 1,605 yards and 14 touchdowns, along with 107 rushing yards. Lee also has a kickoff return for a touchdown. Robert Woods has 66 catches, 721 yards, and 10 touchdowns, along with 76 rushing yards. Lee and Woods are arguably the best receiver tandem in the country, but no other Trojan has more than 26 catches. Xavier Grimble has 5 touchdown catches, and Randall Telfer has 4. Seven Trojan defensive player are out indefinitely or for the season.
Notre Dame is 6-2 ATS after gaining more than 450 yards, 5-2 after allowing 100 rushing yards or more, 11-23 after allowing less than 170 passing yards, 2-6 after a cover, 1-4 in November, and against Pac 12 teams, 1-6 after rushing for more than 200 yards, and 0-5 after a straight up win of 20 points or more. Four of the last five games in this series ahve gone under the total.
USC is 5-2 ATS at home, and in November, 17-7 after a straight up loss, 3-8 overall, 1-5 against teams with winning records, 1-5 after passing for more than 280 yards, and 0-4 at home against teams with winning road records. The Trojans are 7-3 ATS against Notre Dame recently, including 4-1 in L.A.
The only game USC lost in the last 10 years against Notre Dame happened in 2010 when the Irish upset the Trojans when then sophomore Barkley missed the game with injury. Sure, Wittek is a freshman making his first ever start against the #1 team in the nation and their bruising defense on national television. Good luck with that, kid. But seriously, Wittek is talented or he wouldn’t have been recruited by USC. If he can avoid Notre dame’s fearsome pass rush led by All-American and Heisman contending linebacker Manti Te’o, he has the talent to exploit The Fighting Irish’s average secondary.
Notre Dame has won 5 games by a touchdown or less. Notre Dame should win this game, but the last two weeks the #1 team has lost with Alabama losing to Texas A&M and Kansas St losing to Baylor. I will go out on a limb and say the Trojans pull off the upset to make their season.
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