One of college football’s biggest rivalries will return Saturday after a one-year absence. On one side, you have Notre Dame trying to stay relevant as some experts believe it still has an outside shot at the College Football Playoff (yeah right). On the other, you have USC simply trying to get through the season after dismissing its coach. Neither side knows what’s next, so picking up a win is crucial.

Here’s what some college football experts, including those on the Wire sites, are predicting for this game:

CFN Experts

Eric Bolin, Notre Dame
Patrick Conn, Notre Dame
Adam Dubbin, Notre Dame
Jeff Feyerer, CFN: Notre Dame
Pete Fiutak, CFN: Notre Dame
Dan Harralson, Notre Dame
Phil Harrison, Notre Dame
Jeremy Mauss, Notre Dame
Kevin McGuire, Notre Dame
Big Game Ben Niewoehner, CFN Notre Dame
Johnny Rosenstein, Notre Dame
Scott Steehn, Notre Dame
Clucko the Chicken, CFN: Notre Dame


Kerry Miller, Bleacher Report

“USC is the most mercurial team in the country. The Trojans have three wins by at least 23 points and three losses by at least 14 points, and they have oscillated between those results.

Despite a coaching change and some quarterback fluidity, USC’s offense has been pretty consistent, racking up from 408 to 494 total yards and scoring at least 26 points in each contest. It’s the defense that has been all over the map, and it’s the defense that will let them down in this rivalry game.

Notre Dame’s offense hasn’t been anything close to elite, but Kyren Williams is a mighty fine running back, Michael Mayer is a star at tight end when he’s healthy (and it looks like he’s good to go this week) and they got an extra week to try to figure out their quarterback room. They won’t drop 50 points in this one, but they’ll do enough to keep the CFP dream alive.”

Notre Dame 35, USC 31

Brad Crawford and Chris Hummer, 247Sports


“This is an interesting clash of styles. USC has a porous defense but a passing offense that can create points in bunches. Notre Dame, for its part, has an excellent defense and mostly has to manufacture points via its ground game. Generally, I like the more explosive team in this situation. But USC is one-dimensional and Notre Dame is better coached with the defenders needed to attack the Trojans’ passing game. … Notre Dame 27, USC 18.


“USC has been a wildly-inconsistent football team this season and the Irish have settled down a bit since the loss to Cincinnati. In fact, Notre Dame’s faint College Football Playoff hopes hang in the balance here and Brian Kelly knows his team can’t afford another setback in the loss column. … Notre Dame 31, USC 23.”

Other 247Sports predictions.

Athlon Sports

Steven Lassan: Notre Dame
Mark Ross: Notre Dame
Ben Weinrib: Notre Dame


Ralph D. Russo, Associated Press

“Irish have won three straight meetings and have not won more than that consecutively since an 11-game winning streak from 1983-93.”

Notre Dame 31, USC 21



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