Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 26, 2018

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

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 38 of 55 NOV. 26, 2018 39 ture and leadership is a mess (see Notre Dame in 2016). If the game was merely about col- lection of talent, the Trojans would be a perennial top-five outfit. Over the past five years, their Rivals class rankings have been No. 10 (2014), No. 1 (2015), No. 10 (2016), No. 6 (2017) and No. 3 (2018), with this past cycle highlighted by the five-star passing combination of quarterback JT Daniels and wide receiver Amon- Ra St. Brown, younger brother of 2015-17 Irish wideout Equanimeous St. Brown. In all, the 18-man class in 2018 featured five five-star athletes, while the other 13 were four stars — another manifestation of USC's recruiting prowess. The lineup is replete with "star power," especially with receivers such as St. Brown, Tyler Vaughns and Michael Pittman, linebackers John Houston Jr. and Cameron Smith, plus cornerback Iman Marshall and safety Marvin Tell III. However, line play and the loss of quarterback Sam Darnold and running back Ronald Jones II to the NFL, and a season-ending injury to linebacker Porter Gustin, have been significant setbacks. Another corner- back, Jack Jones, who led USC in in- terceptions last season with four, was dismissed from school. Similar to FSU and Notre Dame in 2016, a frayed infrastructure has brought down USC more than a dearth of talent. REVENGE FACTOR One element that can never be un- dervalued in this series is the revenge motive. Four years ago, USC crushed Notre Dame by a 49-14 count, but lost the next season to the Irish. Last year it was the Irish who scorched USC 49-14, so this game now becomes a potential season saver for the Trojans. Last year marked the sixth time since 1961 Notre Dame beat USC by at least four touchdowns, and each of the previous five times the Irish either lost to the Trojans or had to win at the last second the following season. • In 1961, Notre Dame whipped USC 30-0 at home — and the next year lost 25-0 at the Coliseum. • The 1966 national champs handed USC their worst loss ever (51-0), but the next year the Trojans won 24-7 at Notre Dame. • The 1977 national champs top- pled USC 49-19, but USC in con- troversial fashion did end the Irish eight-game winning streak the ensu- ing year with a 27-25 victory. • In Gerry Faust's final season as Notre Dame's head coach, Notre Dame destroyed USC 37-3. The following year, the Trojans led the Irish 37-20 in the fourth quarter before a remarkable 38-37 comeback win concluded with a John Carney field goal as time expired. • Following Notre Dame's 38-10 dismantling of No. 5 USC in 1995, a 5-6 Trojans outfit rallied to defeat the Irish in overtime (27-20) in Lou Holtz's final game as head coach un- der the Golden Dome. Nothing from the past matters in 2018, but it's another reminder of how this series history has a way of switch- ing gears quickly. ✦ GAME PREVIEW: USC Last year's 49-14 runaway marked the sixth time since 1961 the Irish defeated the Trojans by at least four touchdowns, and each of the previous five times they either lost to USC or had to win at the last second the following season. PHOTO BY ANGELA DRISKELL Predictions Corey Bodden: Notre Dame 35, USC 20 Some will still consider this a potential pitfall for the Irish, but Notre Dame is too strong on both sides of the trenches and will make life difficult for freshman quarterback JT Daniels on one side and the Trojans defensive line on the other. Bryan Driskell: Notre Dame 38, USC 21 Notre Dame should be able to control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball with the personnel losses USC has. If the Irish can avoid turnovers they should roll to a comfortable margin of victory again. David McKinney: Notre Dame 37, USC 20 Despite its roster full of top talent, USC has struggled mightily all season, although not quite as badly as Florida State. Ending the season against this Notre Dame team likely won't do much to help those struggles. Lou Somogyi: Notre Dame 27, USC 23 As the "old guy" who has experienced too many Notre Dame horrors in the Los Angeles Coliseum, I take a much more conservative, leery approach. Still, it's tough to pick against the Irish at this point with a College Football Playoff bid on the line.

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Blue and Gold Illustrated - Nov. 26, 2018