Tim O'Malley -- PublisherClick here to read our weekly game preview and for my final prediction of the 2014 regular season in Who, and What, to Watch.
Anna Hickey -- Recruiting ReporterNotre Dame’s offensive performance will be similar to what we’ve seen from this unit in September and October. Everett Golson will churn out his best performance since Florida State, and Notre Dame will rely on a balanced attack of Tarean Folston on the ground and its depth at wide receiver to put points on the board.
If the offense can avoid a stream of three-and-outs in order to minimize critical situations for the injury-stricken defense, touchdowns rather than field goals are the result of scoring opportunities in the red zone, and Golson turns it over no more than once, Notre Dame wins.
Notre Dame 36 USC 33
Morrissey79 -- ModeratorIt's hard to believe we have gotten to this point, but ND needs to somehow pull a win out on Saturday to prevent the program from sinking back to Brian Kelly's worst regular season win total.
The offense seems to lack confidence to make the big play. Everett Golson continues to be infuriating to watch, each game becoming more erratic and inconsistent, with flashes of brilliance followed by WTF moments. Kelly seems to have seriously regressed with his play-calling, whether that's due to a lack of confidence in the offensive line or the defense, I don't know, but still unacceptable in my mind. The defense is decimated by injuries. Brian VanGorder at times on the sidelines looks dejected, having no clue how to put superior athletes in the right places. And our kicker has absolutely zero confidence when he goes out on the field -- yes I know the holding situation is absurd, but he needs to make kicks regardless,and he's not doing it.
But at the end of the day, as Kelly keeps saying, the guys are playing hard. They're coming close to making the winning play. And they haven't given up... Yet.
With USC quarterback Cody Kessler kicking on most cylinders, crazy WR talent, and a strong running game, I'm worried the Irish D could be in for a long day.
I'm sure ND will put up points, will play extremely hard, and keep the game close for a while, but I'm worried they just might run out of has in the 4th Quarter and finish the season a poor and underachieving 7-5.
USC 38 ND 31
SeattleNDFan -- ModeratorThe Irish and Trojans have had strangely similar problems as the season has progressed and that leads to a difficult forecast for Saturday. Both teams have had moments of brilliance on all three sides of the ball and both teams have had multiple mind-bogglingly terrible moments in each phase as well.
In a series that features a five-star Trojan WR (Ronald Johnson) dropping a sure game winning TD pass with no Irish defender within 30 yards, and a five star Irish QB fumbling a snap on the Trojan 1-yard line between his legs -- and having it returned 99 yards for a score, nothing that occurs Saturday should surprise.
Seattle-area football fans became accustomed to startlingly inconsistent seasons from former Husky head coach Steve Sarkisian -- it was no accident that he earned the nickname "Seven-Win Steve" during his tenure on Montlake. If the Trojans can run all over the Irish as too-many-teams-to-count have during the second half of this season, they will score and score some more. On the other hand, the Trojans have been almost as bad in pass defense as the Irish have been stopping the run, and if there is anything the current Notre Dame team can do, it is move the ball through the air and put up points that in any normal season would be more than enough to win.
That equates to yet another high0\-scoring shootout and I will go with Seven-Win Steve holding true to form, which would require losses both to the Irish and in USC's upcoming bowl game.
Notre Dame 42 USC 38