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Irish Favored To Earn Fifth Straight Home Win vs USC

Michael Mayer & Notre Dame open as home favorites against USC in Week 8.

Notre Dame (5-1 SU, 3-3 ATS) and USC (3-3, 3-3) have both had an extra week to prepare for the latest meeting in their storied rivalry. The Irish have won their last four home games against the Trojans and opened as 6.5-point favorites.

USC Trojans vs Notre Dame Fighting Irish
  • Date/Time: October 23, 7:30 p.m. ET
  • Stadium: Notre Dame Stadium
  • TV Coverage: NBC
  • Opening Odds: Notre Dame -6.5 | O/U 58.5 (Line History)
  • USC vs Notre Dame Matchup Report

Opening Odds Analysis

Notre Dame has won 30 straight when favored by 6 points or more, but the Irish have still been a dangerous team to bet on in this price range. Three of their five wins this season have come by a field goal, and they’re just 4-8 ATS in their last 12 as chalk of 6 points or higher.

USC News & Notes

Judging by interim coach Donte Williams’ comments going into USC’s bye week, the Trojans could look a lot different going forward than they did in the first half of the season.

“(We need to be) making sure that we’re playing the right guys … calling the right plays … doing things the right way,” Williams told the Associated Press after a 46-26 loss to Utah. “We’ve got a whole second half of the season to go.”

A different look can’t hurt the Trojans, whose three losses this year have all come by double digits. The blowout loss to the Utes marked the first time in program history that USC had lost three straight games at home by 14 points or more, and their bowl eligibility is very much in jeopardy.

USC might benefit from playing on the road, where it has covered four straight and is on a 7-0 SU run. However, the Trojans haven’t been nearly as successful away from home when they’re underdogs, going 2-12 ATS in their last 14 catching points away from Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

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Notre Dame News & Notes

The Fighting Irish have been a terrific team to back under Brian Kelly when coming off a bye week. Not only is Notre Dame 12-2 SU in its last 14 post-bye games, the Irish have won those contests by an average of 33-18 — more than twice the amount that they’re favored by against USC.

The week off could also help tight end Michael Mayer get back into the lineup after he sat out Notre Dame’s last game with a hip abductor strain. Mayer leads the Irish in both receptions and receiving yards, and he’s also recorded three of the team’s 14 touchdown receptions.

Quarterback Jack Coan was benched briefly in the Irish’s last outing, a 32-29 win at Virginia Tech that was the team’s third win by three points or less this season, but the senior is expected to get the start once again vs the Trojans. If he and the Irish are going to get their offense rolling, they’ll need to be better in the red zone, where they rank 57th in the nation in offensive efficiency.

How USC Will Cover

If the Trojans make any major changes to their schemes or personnel during the bye week, Notre Dame could struggle to adjust to something they haven’t seen on film. USC’s 11th-rated passing game could also enjoy success against a Notre Dame secondary that ranks 87th in the nation.

How Notre Dame Will Cover

A big reason the Fighting Irish have had difficulty finishing off opponents is that they’ve had difficulty finishing off drives with touchdowns. Whether Notre Dame can win this game by a touchdown or more will likely depend on how efficient the Irish are inside the USC 20-yard line. The Trojans, by the way, have allowed touchdowns on 17 of their opponents’ 23 trips inside the red zone.

Computer Pick: USC +7

For more college football predictions, visit our NCAAF Computer Picks Page.

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Shark Bites
  • USC is 2-12 ATS in its last 14 games as an underdog.
  • Notre Dame is 35-0 SU in its last 35 games as a favorite.
  • Notre Dame has won the last 3 meetings.