Staff Picks: Notre Dame vs. USC

Irish Illustrated’s staff gives its predictions for Saturday night’s matchup between Notre Dame and USC in South Bend.

With Tim Prister’s weekly game preview still to come, the rest of the Irish Illustrated staff offers a few thoughts on Saturday’s prime time tussle.

Pete Sampson
Notre Dame should have everything working in its favor with temperatures in the 40’s, an opponent in disarray, the biggest revenge card of the Kelly era and legit College Football Playoff hopes. If this wasn’t the week after Navy the temptation would be to pick Notre Dame by the reverse score line from that blowout in the Coliseum.

Instead, we’ll keep in conservative. The Irish cruise into the bye  week with a comfortable cover as Will Fuller scores twice, Sheldon Day posts a couple sacks and KeiVarae Russell gets his first pick of the season.

Notre Dame 34 USC 20
2015 Prediction Record: 6-0

Tim O’Malley
Revenge is a motive offered often by fan bases, and it’s generally overblown, as most players have only a vague recollection of previous games. (They play them; we live them.)

Not this Saturday. From head coach Brian Kelly down through the last man left bludgeoned on the Los Angeles Coliseum’s turf last November, this week has been about redemption if not outright payback. In a game they cannot afford to lose, Kelly and the Irish come through with a wire-to-wire victory over the Men of Troy, and Notre Dame’s secondary authors its best performance of the 2015 season.

Notre Dame 31 USC 20
2015 Prediction Record: 4-2

Jack Freeman
Given the state of USC football right now, it’s hard to get a handle on what kind of team arrives at Notre Dame stadium on Saturday night. Will they get a bump of emotion and focus with their new interim head coach? Or will their weird week of turmoil lead to mental errors and a sloppy game? If Notre Dame starts fast and gets USC back on their heels early I think the Trojans will fold up like a cheap tent.

Notre Dame 38 USC 20
2015 Prediction Record: 4-2

Anna Hickey
USC won’t lack five-star talent on Saturday night. And it’ll be playing with nothing to lose against its most hated rival. That has the makings for a Trojan win. But Notre Dame is the better-prepared team, more well coached team and more hungry team. Cornerback KeiVarae Russell could be the x-factor, and I’ll hedge my bets on him, especially when he’s being overlooked.

Notre Dame 35 USC 30
2015 Prediction Record: 5-1

Jake Brown
One of the hardest things about making this pick is figuring out how the USC players will respond to the latest program drama. Do they rally around an interim head coach and put their awesome talent on display? Or do they go through the motions and look like they did against Washington? We won't know until the game starts. Either way, I like a home team that can run the ball with zero off-field distractions. I've got the Irish in an entertaining if not high scoring matchup.

Notre Dame 28 USC 20
2015 Prediction Record: 6-0

Steve Hare
Southern Cal has every reason to roll over and play dead in this game but don't expect that to happen.  The head coach isn't the guy on the field making plays and the Trojans have plenty of pride in themselves and their program. Aside from a bad first half at Clemson, the Irish have played well this season and the Irish offense is blossoming under DeShone Kizer while the defense has performed well in every game..

Notre Dame 27 USC 23
2015 Prediction Record: 5-1 Top Stories