Notre Dame Fighting Irish
(6-5, 4-5-2 ATS)
(7-4, 5-6 ATS)
When the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and USC Trojans collide, big things usually happen. Who can forget the “Bush Push” in South Bend or when the Irish marched into Pasadena in 2000 and pulled out a great ‘W’? Though Notre Dame hasn’t won a game in this series since 2001, it can make a huge statement and inch back towards the Top 25 if it can pull off this upset at the LA Coliseum on Saturday night.
Who knew that QB Tommy Rees would be good enough to lead the Irish to back to back victories to become bowl eligible? Rees has thrown for 756 yards and eight scores against five picks since replacing the injured QB Dayne Crist, and the most amazing part about it all is that he hasn’t had the services of WR Theo Riddick or RB Armando Allen either. We’ll give some credit to RB Cierre Wood, who has at least nailed down the running back position and has done just enough to keep the Golden Domers moving on offense. WR Michael Floyd is one of the most talented receivers in the country, and he is going to inevitably be called on quite a bit to beat the Men of Troy. Floyd has 62 receptions for 830 yards and nine trips to the end zone on the season. Defensively, the Fighting Irish haven’t allowed a touchdown in over 11 quarters of play. Even that 28-27 loss to the Tulsa Golden Hurricane featured a pair of non offensive TDs scored against the Notre Dame defense. The numbers for the Irish are getting better and better on this side of the ball, as they are allowing just 20.9 points per game now.
You never know what you’re going to get from the Trojans. At times, they look like the best team in the country, and at times, their terrible play just makes you scratch your head. This is the brittle nature of a team that is on probation, though. Last week was one of those games that was of the latter in nature. USC went on the road and was absolutely blasted by the Oregon State Beavers 36-7. The week before, it knocked off the Arizona Wildcats 24-21. If you’d like some more proof that this team is just incredibly bi-polar, the underdog has gone 2-1 SU and 3-0 ATS since the start of November, with the one exception being the Arizona State Sun Devils game in which the Trojans escaped with a 34-33 win. Dogs are 7-4 ATS this year in USC games. QB Matt Barkley, who has thrown for 25 TDs this year, is battling a high ankle sprain, and though this wasn’t originally supposed to be the type of injury that cost him time, QB Mitch Mustain is preparing to make his first start in a USC uniform.
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Regardless of who plays, we tend to think that the Irish are going to snare their first victory in this series in quite some time. Notre Dame is just playing better ball this year, and there is no reason, with a bowl game already locked up, that this team should feel like it has anything to lose. HC Brian Kelly gets his biggest win with the Golden Domers on Saturday.
NCAA Football Free Pick: Notre Dame Fighting Irish +4.5
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