No. 13 Irish and struggling USC renew intersectional rivalry
USC (3-3) at No. 13 Notre Dame (5-1), Saturday at 7:30 p.m. EDT (NBC).
Line: Notre Dame by 6 1/2, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
Series: Notre Dame leads 49-37-5.
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
Brian Kelly’s Fighting Irish hope to get back on track at home after Cincinnati ended a Notre Dame Stadium streak of 26 straight victories. USC is 2-2 since interim coach Donte Williams took over for Clay Helton, with both victories coming on the road.
First-year Irish defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman’s work-in-progress unit faces USC offensive coordinator Graham Harrell’s Air-Raid attack which is averaging 318.3 passing yards and led by junior QB Kedon Slovis and a talented and deep receiving corps. Notre Dame’s rebuilding offensive line needs to take another step forward to allow quarterbacks Jack Coan and Tyler Buchner time to throw and backs Kyren Williams and Chris Tyree room to roam against a USC defense which is surrendering 6.2 yards per play.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
USC: Wide receiver Drake London. In six games, the 6-foot-5, 210-pound junior has 64 receptions for 832 yards with five touchdowns. He had 16 receptions for 162 yards and one TD in USC’s home loss to Utah Oct. 9.
Notre Dame: Free safety Kyle Hamilton. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound junior, one of seven team captains, leads the Irish with three interceptions. He is tied for the team lead with four passes broken up and is second in tackles with 32 including two for minus-five yards.
FACTS & FIGURES
Because of the COVID-19 scheduling restrictions, last year’s game at Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles was canceled, the first time the teams didn’t play since a 1943-45 hiatus because of World War II. … Notre Dame held on to win the last meeting 30-27 in South Bend on Oct. 12, 2019. … The Irish will be seeking their fourth straight victory over USC under Kelly, who is 7-3 against the Trojans and will be facing his fifth different head coach in 12 seasons. … The Trojans have not won in South Bend since 2011 when Kiffin’s Trojans prevailed over Kelly’s second Irish squad 31-17. … … Notre Dame has won 36 straight games against unranked opponents, the longest active streak in FBS.
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