Five Predictions for USC vs. Notre Dame


Week 6 Recap: After two weeks of strong performances, I came crashing back down to Earth with my traditional 0-for-5 performance. Utah did not cough up the ball twice, Jacob Licten-sack did not make an appearance, Gary Bryant's TD streak ended, Isaac Taylor-Stuart did not grab a Pick-6 and Darwin Barlow did not score. It was rough Season: 9-30

1) At least four sacks by USC's defense

USC has simply been better when it plays on the road, particularly the defense as eight of USC's 10 sacks on the season have come in those road wins. Granted those were against poor Pac-12 teams (Colorado, Washington State), but Notre Dame has struggled to protect its quarterbacks in 2021. The new offensive line has yielded 24 sacks in six games, roughly four per game. I think USC at least hits that number, especially with a healthy Drake Jackson – I mean Sackman – and a more confident Korey Foreman after his first sacks against Utah.

2) A special teams block

I usually have some sort of data point or stat to back up a prediction, but I'm just going out on a whim on this one. It's a big rivalry game. Things can happen. Things DO happen, and lets say someone gets a block on Saturday night. This one counts for either side, but I will note that USC and Notre Dame have not blocked any kicks or punts this season.

3) USC scores a TD of at least 45 yards

As I noted in the special teams block section, things get wild in rivalry games. That's why I'm picking the Trojans to score on a big play. Drake London could obviously London it up or maybe a deep shot to Gary Bryant Jr. or perhaps even on that lock of a special teams block. When it comes to the pass defense, the Fighting Irish have allowed five plays of at least 40 yards through the air this season and two of at least 60 yards.

4) Calen Bullock interception

The safety group has been playing so poorly in the the first half of the season, but Bullock has been a nice bright spot. The narrative out of the bye week has been the young guys on defense are pushing for more time and Bullock is a good example of that. I'm banking on him getting a good amount of time in South Bend and coming up with a play. Notre Dame has thrown six picks this season, three by presumed started Jack Coan.

5) Two Drake London scores

This is a monster opportunity for London, playing in a big rivalry game on a national stage. London was part of that 2019 team that lost by three points in South Bend, but he did not record a catch in that loss. This time will much different as he returns as one of the best receivers in the nation. Notre Dame will obviously plan for him, but you can't outright stop No. 15. He's going to get his chances on Saturday and I think that yields two scores. Three of London's five TDs have come on the road, including a two-TD game against Washington State.