Notre Dame Football Primer: Green, Cold Await Rival Trojans

The Green Out is back! Notre Dame Stadium will (maybe) be full of green this Saturday Night, as the Trojans march into South Bend. The Fighting Irish remain 9th in this week’s AP Poll as they take on their longtime rival the Trojans of Southern California. As the Irish continue their push to the playoffs, they will have to defeat Clay Helton and USC for the third consecutive year.

Essential Game Info:

  • Game Time: October 12th at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBC
  • Location: Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, Indiana
  • Matchup History: Notre Dame leads the series 46-36-5 (Last Meeting 2018: Irish won 24-17)
  • Current Odds: Notre Dame -11.5

Weather Forecast

The current forecast for GameDay shows a 50% chance of rain with highs in the high 40’s degrees and a low of 40.  The cold temperatures should impact our friends from Southern Cal, but could also significantly limit the success of the “Green Out” unless everyone has some bright green jackets.

USC Details:

  • Conference: Pac-12 (South Division)
  • Head Coach: Clay Helton
  • 2019 Record: 3-2
  • 2018 Record: 5-7

USC Storylines:

Fresh off a bye-week. Of course, another program schedules their bye-week before they play the Irish. Clay Helton is undoubtedly on the hot seat this week. His time in Los Angeles has been filled with inconsistency. This game could be a “must-win” if he wants to keep his job.

The USC Trojans will present a quality matchup in South Bend, but who will be their starting quarterback?

A plethora of Quarterback Injuries. Former five-star recruit, JT Daniels, suffered a knee injury in Week 1 and is out the entire season. Backup Kedon Slovis had a concussion against Utah and has since been cleared for non-contact at practice.

Matt Fink came in against Utah and led the Trojans to a victory with 3 touchdowns and 1 interception against the Utes. Conversely, in his last appearance, Fink had 1 touchdown and 3 interceptions against the Washington Huskies. If Slovis is available, expect to see him leading the Trojans this weekend.

Key Players for the Trojans. Vavae Malepeai and Markese Stepp headline the Trojans backfield. Malepeai has 79 attempts for 360 yards (4.6 yards per carry) with 4 touchdowns. While the former Notre Dame commit, Stepp, has 25 carries for 159 yards (6.4 yards per carry) with 1 touchdown.

The historically dominant Trojan receiving core is stacked as usual. The leading receivers include Michael Pittman Jr., Tyler Vaughns, and Amon-Ra St. Brown. Amon-Ra St. Brown, the brother of former Irish standout Equanimeous St. Brown, has 24 catches for 238 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Notre Dame Storylines:

Green Out Conditions in South Bend. The second annual Green Out will take place at Notre Dame Stadium this weekend. Last year’s event was quite successful against the Michigan Wolverines. However, the official Notre Dame T-Shirt last season was green, which positively helped the cause.

This year, the official Notre Dame Shirt is the traditional navy. Notre Dame has promoted this Green Out for several months now and has picked up the promotion on social media immediately after the Bowling Green victory. Can the Irish fill Notre Dame Stadium with green again this weekend even with temperatures in the 40’s? Fans will find out soon.

Injury Update. Jafar Armstrong is expected to be back for this week’s matchup. Now it is not official, but Coach Kelly said he believes Armstrong will be ready for the game. The junior running back could be the missing piece to this Notre Dame Offense. He was the #1 running back for the Irish when he went down against Louisville and has home run capability.

Lawrence Keys III is also expected to return this weekend, adding depth to the Irish receiving core while Shaun Crawford is still working on getting back on the field in the upcoming months.

Ian Book excels against Bowling Green. Book had his best game of the year against the Bowling Green Falcons. The Irish quarterback went 16 for 20 with 5 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. Now the competition was undoubtedly the worst the Irish will face all season. However, this game could help Notre Dame with momentum moving forward.

The USC Trojans Defense will provide a more significant challenge this weekend, along with the Michigan Wolverines coming up in a few weeks.

Head to Head Matchups:

Notre Dame Offense vs. USC Defense: Clay Helton’s Defense has given up 24.8 points per game. Brian Kelly even said this might be the best defense that he has seen from the USC Trojans. Notre Dame’s Offense hit their stride last week, but then again, every team has hit their stride against Bowling Green.

This week will be an excellent test for the Irish Offense. Can Ian Book’s passing game and the Irish running attack continue to improve? I believe so. Playing at home gives Notre Dame the advantage in this matchup.

Advantage: Notre Dame

USC Offense vs. Notre Dame Defense: The Trojans have a formidable offense once again. USC does not lack talent on the offensive side of the ball. However, this Irish Defense is one of the best in the entire country. Last year at the Coliseum, the USC Offense gave the Irish all they could handle for most of the game.

In South Bend, Clark Lea’s Defense has a distinct advantage in this category.

Advantage: Notre Dame

Special Teams: USC’s kicking game is led by Chase McGrath, who is 4 for 4 on the season, with a long of 52 yards.

Luckily for the Irish Offense, they haven’t had to kick many field goals. Jonathan Doerer is 3 for 4 on the season while punter Jay Bramblett continues to impress with the punting game and will bring nice stability in the upcoming seasons.

There is no distinct advantage in this matchup.


My Prediction:

One of the greatest rivalries in college football is back this Saturday Night. It’s expected to be a chilly, October Night in South Bend this weekend. The atmosphere will be electric at Notre Dame Stadium for the Green Out.

Clay Helton and the USC Trojans are a good football team. They have beaten the Stanford Cardinal and Utah Utes. But have also lost on the road to Washington and BYU (in overtime). USC is a quality football team, and they will want to end their losing streak to Notre Dame.

I don’t see the Irish losing to USC under the lights in front of a Green Out. This game should be closer than the 49-14 beatdown in South Bend a few years back, but I still believe Notre Dame will control the entire game.

Prediction: Notre Dame 38 USC 17

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  1. I’d love to see our stadium 80% green on TV this Saturday…I was at the Michigan game last year and it was awesome…but the weather requires a green sweatshirt (and not a thin one), a green jacket, or even better, a green poncho, or a green winter coat (which are few and far between). I know you all might not like to hear this (it is, after all, closely linked to REALITY for a working Catholic family) but if you are there with four tix for friends or family and you don’t already have those green items, it’s gonna cost you between $200 and $400 dollars to make the student’s happy. If you can afford that on top of everything else you spent for this weekend, go for it. If you can’t afford it, you have my sympathy working brothers and sisters, if nobody else’s around here.

    Advice you won’t listen to: Make a September game the Green out next year…Arkansas perhaps…or if you want to do Clemson, make it a BLUE OUT. It’s far more likely that people already have something warm in that color. Just sayin’.

    BGC ’77 ’82

  2. I dont agree with the transfer rule when it is. being used by players Because they can’t beat out the starter. However if this is the way it is set up I was wondering if next year Notredame can get a superstar qb like Justin Fields Joe Burroughs JalenHurts if one becomes available if Book doesn’t get better and Phil doesn’t blossom. 3 of the top 6 teams in the country have transfer QBs who didnt have to sit out a year. Does anyone know if Notredame because of their academic admissions policies can even do this?

    1. Pete, they have to have a Bachelor’s degree and be accepted into one of our Graduate degree programs…that’s the only policy I know of.

      BGC ’77 ’82

    1. Denny, Of course not. Neither did Garry Faust. As I said, they were both nice men, good men! Just lousy college football head coaches. Now Chunky Charlie peed on my Alma Mater. Does that count?

      BGC ’77 ’82

    2. Well, Denny, if you look at the article Helton
      is 8-9 since the beginning of 2018, This is with talent that is easily in the top 5 of American football teams.

      You might want to watch the entire game film of the mighty Helton Trojans performance against the woeful crosstown Bruins
      last November.

      It ain’t about poodles. It’s about the buzzards circling Heritage Hall waiting to feast on Helton’s carcass.

      Helton? As Gertrude Stein once said of Oakland “there is no there there.”.

  3. SC’s defensive numbers are deceiving. They have not played any explosive offensive teams.

    In particular, BYU, Utah and Stanford labor on offense and struggle to put up points.

    wet green is intriguing, but far more dangerous to Troy is that this is a undisciplined squad which amasses turnovers and penalties.
    They are not physical.

    But this game reminds me of 2001, when Davie’s final squad beat Carroll’s first. Carroll would never again lose to Notre Dame once he got it going.

    If the rumors are true and that Meyer will soon be roaming Heritage Hall, we better enjoy this one.

    Soon the studs from Mater Dei, Bosco, Servite, Serra, Orange Lutheran, Bishop Amat and the city schools will be
    succumbing to Meyer’s lures. IF, as in IF Meyer returns to coaching this will be college football’s biggest intersectional rivalry.

    It was not because he couldn’t coach, that Ara won only three against SC. Mckay simply corraled the local talent,
    Meyer can do that, and he knows how to hire recruiters. He will snag a few from Ohio, Florida and Texas, and the rivalry, with all its fear and trembling,
    will have been restored.

    ND deserves better than Faust, Davie and Weis.
    SC deserves better than Orgeron, Kiffin and the dumbest dumbo of them all, Helton.

    Somewhere, off on a cloud, Howard Jones and Knute K. Rockne understand.

    1. Duranko, your last 2 paragraphs were beautiful statements. I’m not sure about your analysis of those PAC 8 teams you mentioned though. It may be correct, seems to be sometimes, but the PAC 8 this year is a mystery to me; definitely an enigma. Helton is no mystery though…USC deserves a better head coach, though I understand that Helton is a really good man. The same can always be said without hesitation about Garry Faust…he was a really good man, but not the right man for the head coaching job at ND.

      BGC ’77 ’82

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