BY: BRETT CAGLE
Preview and Predicion: #21 Notre Dame (5-2) vs. #10 USC (6-0)
Notre Dame comes into this contest following back-to-back sub par performances on the road against ranked opponents. Duke and Louisville are in the middle of historic years for their programs and are both featured in the top twenty of the College Football Rankings. Last week against Louisville, Quarterback Sam Hartman uncharacteristically threw three interceptions in a game the Irish were outscored 26-13 in the second half. The Notre Dame defense allowed 330 yards of offense, with 185 coming on the ground. Entering this game with undefeated USC, “The Fighting Irish” have many questions to answer surrounding their team.
Offensively, Notre Dame has not scored over 21 points in a game since week four of the season. This is a staggering statistic considering the team averaged over 40 points PPG to start the first four weeks of the year. While Sam Hartman had an underwhelming game last week it was his only game with interceptions on the season. Hartman (16 TDs, 3 INTs) still has an impressive touchdown touchdown-to-interception rate. Up front, Notre Dame struggled against the Cardinals only rushing for 40 yards as a team. Starting Running Back Audric Estime rushed 10 times for only 20 rushing yards. If Notre Dame wants to have success this weekend they will have to establish some sort of running game.
USC star Quarterback Caleb Williams and Head Coach Lincoln Riley have one of the most feared offenses in the nation. 2022 Heisman winner Caleb Williams has thrown for over 1,800 yards in the first six weeks. While doing so, Williams has contributed 22 touchdown passes to the Trojans high powered offense. Two of William’s top targets are Senior wide receivers Tahj Washington and Brendan Rice. Both Rice and Washington have over 400 receiving yards and five touchdowns.
Head Coach Marcus Freeman is under pressure right now after starting the season 4-0. It is amazing how fast things can change in the world of college football. The Irish just weeks ago were playoff hopefuls with an emerging transfer Quarterback. Now Coach Freeman is fighting for his job while the Irish try to become bowl-eligible this weekend.
Players to Watch (Notre Dame):
(QB) Sam Hartman- 16 passing TDs, 3 Interceptions, 1,712 Passing yards.
(TE) Mitchell Evans- 22 Receptions, 343 total yards, 1 Touchdown.
(WR) Chris Tyree- 14 Receptions, 293 receiving yards, 2 Touchdowns.
Players to Watch (USC):
(QB) Caleb Williams- 22 Passing Touchdowns, 1 Interception, 1,822 Passing Yards.
(RB) MarShawn Loyd- 67 Carries, 519 Yards, 4 Touchdowns.
(WR) Brendan Rice- 21 Receptions, 434 Yards, 7 Touchdowns.