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