Notre Dame at Southern California
Where: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, California
Notre Dame needs one more win for its first undefeated regular season since 2012 and a likely first-ever trip to the College Football Playoff. All that stands in its way is USC as the long-time rivals go head-to-head in primetime from L.A. on Saturday evening.
The third-ranked Fighting Irish passed their latest test in dominant fashion last Saturday, getting past then-No. 12 Syracuse with ease in a 36-3 win at Yankee Stadium. Ian Book threw for 292 yards and two touchdowns in his return to the lineup after missing one game with a rib injury, while Dexter Williams added 74 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries. USC has lost four of its last five after starting the season 4-2 and needs an upset win over the Irish to become bowl eligible. The Trojans’ latest setback came at the hands of crosstown-rival UCLA as the Bruins managed a 34-27 win at the Rose Bowl last weekend.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, ABC. LINE: Notre Dame -10.5
ABOUT NOTRE DAME (11-0): The offense did its job but it was Notre Dame’s defense that was the story of the game as it recorded three interceptions and six sacks against an Orange offense that was averaging 44.4 points per game coming in. Junior safety Alohi Gilman led the way with two picks while senior linebacker Te’von Coney recorded 12 tackles. The Fighting Irish came close to pitching its first shutout since 2014 but Syracuse elected to kick a field goal with 10 seconds remaining to break the goose egg.
ABOUT USC (5-6): The Trojans allowed Bruins running back Joshua Kelley to run for 289 yards (third-most in UCLA history) and two touchdowns on 40 carries and the USC defense will have its hands full in trying to contain Williams. Quarterback JT Daniels threw for 337 yards and two touchdowns but also threw two interceptions, one of which was a fourth-quarter turnover that led to a UCLA field goal that was part of a final frame in which the Bruins outscored the Trojans 13-0. Michael Pittman Jr. had seven catches for 106 yards while Amon-Ra St. Brown, the brother of former Notre Dame receiver Equanimeous St. Brown, chipped in with 98 yards and a touchdown on six receptions.
1. Notre Dame has won five of the last eight meetings against USC, including last year’s 49-14 win in South Bend, Ind.
2. The Fighting Irish have outgained seven of their last eight opponents by 100 yards or more.
3. USC’s last three losses have been by a combined 11 points.