The Pac-12 can almost taste its first College Football Playoff appearance since 2016-17. One of the last major hurdles standing in its way are the No. 13 Notre Dame Fighting Irish. The No. 5 USC Trojans host the Irish at 7:30 p.m. Saturday from L.A. Memorial Coliseum. You can watch the game on ABC.
Notre Dame looked lost early this season after back-to-back losses to the Ohio State Buckeyes and Marshall Thundering Herd. That 0-2 start did not deter Marcus Freeman’s bunch, which has rattled off eight wins in their last nine games. They’ve done so largely by relying on the running game and will try to slow USC down on Saturday, forcing them to play at their pace. The Fighting Irish ran the ball 38 times for 281 yards in a blowout 44-0 win against the Boston College Eagles. But a road game against the No. 5 team in the country will be a different beast.
USC’s only loss this season came on the road against the Utah Utes in one of college football’s toughest environments. They’ve run the table since, winning four straight games by averaging 47.3 points per game. That offensive run is thanks largely to QB Caleb Williams’ near-flawless play; he threw for 470 yards in a thrilling 48-45 win over UCLA last week. Notre Dame’s 16th-ranked pass defense faces a stiff test in Jordan Addison and Mario Williams, both of whom will likely be able to suit up after dealing with lingering injuries. Since the Michigan Wolverines or Ohio State will be knocked out of the playoff by the other this weekend, USC will put itself in a Pac-12 championship game win-and-in scenario if it can top Notre Dame first.
USC is a 5.5-point favorite at DraftKings Sportsbook, and are priced at -215 on the moneyline. That makes Notre Dame a +185 underdog, and the over/under is set at 63.