Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 26, 2022*

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

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36 NOV. 26, 2022 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED GAME PREVIEW: SOUTHERN CAL BY TODD D. BURLAGE USC RUNNING GAME VS. NOTRE DAME RUN DEFENSE The Trojans took a big hit in this category during their 55-17 win over Colorado Nov. 11, when star senior running back Travis Dye was lost for the season with an apparent knee injury. Dye leads the Trojans and ranked third in the Pac-12 after the Colorado game with 884 yards rush- ing. He also was the team leader and fifth in the league with 9 touchdowns when he went down. The loss of Dye is notable but there is plenty of talent be- hind him at this deep position group for the Trojans. Senior running back Austin Jones went from backup to starter and was playing well heading into USC's game against UCLA Nov. 19. Through 10 games, Jones had 335 yards with 3 touchdowns and a robust 6.4-yard rushing average on his 52 carries. Sophomore quarterback Caleb Williams is a dual- threat player and a notable rushing threat. The transfer from Oklahoma averaged 28.3 yards a game and had 6 rushing touchdowns, the second most on the team, through Week 11. For Notre Dame, its steady ascent in this cate- gory hit some turbulence on Nov. 12, when it gave up a season-high 255 yards to Navy. And while stopping the potent triple-option rushing game of the Midshipmen is always difficult, that statistical meltdown for the Irish was still surprising. In the two games before Navy, the Notre Dame defense held both Syracuse (61 yards) and Clem- son (90 yards) to season-low rushing perfor- mances. The Irish headed into their game against Boston College Nov. 19 ranked 53rd nationally in rushing defense, allowing 138.2 yards per game. Even after missing the Navy game with an injury, senior linebacker JD Bertrand still easily led the Irish with 60 tackles, including 6.5 for loss, through 10 games. Advantage: Notre Dame USC PASSING GAME VS. NOTRE DAME PASS DEFENSE This is the area where USC does some of the best work in the country. Williams has been as good as advertised since transferring from Oklahoma to USC. Williams, who was a 2021 Freshman All-Ameri- can, entered the UCLA game Nov. 19 ranked third in the Pac-12 with 301 passing yards per game, and he easily led the conference with 31 touchdown passes — tied for the third-best mark in the coun- try — while tossing only 2 interceptions. As far as targets, Williams has plenty to choose from. Led by Pitt transfer and 2021 Biletnikoff Award winner Jordan Addison, Williams has five receivers with at least 20 catches this season. Ad- dison, a speedy junior, led the Trojans with 40 receptions, 587 receiving yards and 7 touchdown catches through 10 games. USC, however, is not a one-man show. The Tro- jans feature 12 different receivers with a touch- down catch, and 10 of those have at least 2. Junior wide receiver Tahj Washington — who had 33 receptions for 510 yards and 4 touchdowns through Week 11 — nicely complements Addi- son. Sophomore wideout Mario Williams, who transferred from Oklahoma along with Williams, has contributed 26 catches for 493 yards and 4 touchdowns. After recording only 1 interception in its first seven games, Notre Dame tallied 5 in the three games against Syracuse, Clemson and Navy. Two On PaPer Junior Jordan Addison, the 2021 Biletnikoff Award winner as the best wide receiver in the country while at Pittsburgh, led the Trojans' explosive passing with 40 receptions, 587 receiving yards and 7 touchdown catches through 10 games. PHOTO COURTESY SOUTHERN CAL ATHLETICS

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