Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 23, 2017

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 38 of 55 OCT. 23, 2017 39 Georgia, but came up one point short (20‑19) against a Bulldogs team that has become a bona fide contender for the four‑team College Football Playoff. Blowing out the teams that are in‑ ferior has been a positive step for‑ ward this season for Notre Dame, but until it can win at least at a .600 clip against the "big boys" on the schedule, the Irish won't be taken as seriously on the national stage. Moral victories are not what Notre Dame and Kelly aspire toward. At some point, it has to come out on top in one of these type of matchups to start regaining credibility as a con‑ sistent force. BYE & BYE This will mark the fifth straight time that Notre Dame will host USC at home with the Irish coming off a bye week. Since 2009, Notre Dame's athletic administration has made it a priority to have its bye week occur during the midway point of the season and, if possible, coincide with the school's mid‑semester break. That way, with no classes to attend, the football play‑ ers have an opportunity to go home for a few days during the weekend and decompress from the grind of an arduous campaign. They will have that opportunity again with no classes from Oct. 14‑22. The bye didn't help Notre Dame against USC in 2009 and 2011 losses at home, but the Irish did defeat the Trojans in 2013 (14‑10) and eked past Temple in 2015 (24‑20) after the bye. Under head coach Brian Kelly, Notre Dame is 8‑1 coming off a bye, and has had a seven‑game winning streak since the aforementioned setback to USC in 2011. Last year the Irish went into the bye week reeling with a 2‑5 record — and then responded with a 30‑27 win at home versus a Miami team that wouldn't lose again the rest of the year while finishing No. 20 in the Associated Press poll. On the other side, USC was the Pac‑12 team stuck this year without a bye during the 12‑game regular season, and that can take its toll. This is the first time that has happened to the Trojans since 1995 when they played an 11‑game regular season — and the year Notre Dame last de‑ feated a ranked USC team. The Irish also are the lone team this season that has a bye the week before facing the Trojans. ✦ GAME PREVIEW: USC For the fourth time in the last five meetings between the Fighting Irish and Trojans in Notre Dame Stadium, Notre Dame will have a bye the week preceding the game. Meanwhile, USC will not have a bye during the 12-game regular season. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA Predictions Corey Bodden: Notre Dame 31, USC 30 USC has great skill position talent, but the Trojans offensive line is a mess because of injuries. In the end, the Irish create a couple of turnovers to pull off the win. Bryan Driskell: Notre Dame 31, USC 27 USC QB Sam Darnold is going to be dangerous, but the Trojans are banged up along both lines and that will ultimately be the difference in a Notre Dame victory. David McKinney: USC 24, Notre Dame 21 This could be a springboard for the winning team the rest of the season, and it may come down to the final possession, similar to the Notre Dame-Georgia game. Lou Somogyi: Notre Dame 27, USC 24 My preseason pick was a split at home with Georgia and USC and a split on the road in November versus Miami and Stanford. Hope the Trojans don't throw this off schedule.

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