Notre Dame vs USC Odds, Picks and Predictions: Fighting Irish Keep Caleb and Co. Under Check

With Notre Dame coming in as a run-first team, that will lead to a lack of turnover chances for the USC defense and force Caleb Williams and the offense to deal with longer drives than usual. Read more in our Notre Dame vs. USC betting picks.

Last Updated: Nov 26, 2022 8:01 AM ET Read Time: 4 min

Few things make Notre Dame fans happier than upsetting USC, but one of those things would be knocking USC out of the College Football Playoff picture entirely. The Irish have that chance this weekend, which would give them an uplifting end to an otherwise frustrating season.

Here are our free college football picks and predictions for Notre Dame vs USC on November 26.

Notre Dame vs USC best odds

Notre Dame vs USC picks and predictions

The talk this season about USC’s absurd turnover luck overlooks a reality: The Trojans have picked off opposing quarterbacks 18 times, and if any part of turnover luck is not really luck, it is that. Those have not been 18 batted balls or 18 tip drills. Those are, for the most part, genuinely forced turnovers.

Know what Notre Dame does not do much of? Throw the ball. Irish junior quarterback Drew Pyne is not immune to throwing interceptions, with three in Notre Dame’s last five games, but they are not common and almost always come on deflected passes.

The Irish have rushed the ball 215 times during this five-game winning streak, compared to throwing it 117 times. USC cannot pick off passes if Pyne is not throwing them at a high enough volume.

Those 18 interceptions have sparked the Trojans’ offense more than most realize, with all the attention paid to Caleb Williams distracting from the short fields he enjoys. Eleven times this year, USC has scored a touchdown after starting a possession at midfield or better. In seven instances, the Trojans have scored a touchdown after gaining possession via an interception. 

It was no coincidence that the Trojans scored “only” 30 points against Washington State in early October... the Cougars never turned over the ball. They did rush for five yards per carry. The Irish have averaged 5.2 yards per carry across their five-game winning streak, and that even includes a horrid showing against Navy’s all-blitz, all-the-time defense.

All five of those opponents have better rush defenses than USC’s. In terms of expected points added per rush attempt against, the Trojans rank last in the country, per cfb-graphs.com. Every rush attempt against USC’s defense raises the opponent’s expected final score by more than a quarter point.

That seems pertinent when pondering Notre Dame’s chances. If the Irish are able to run successfully, they will not consider throwing the ball. If they don’t pass much, then the Trojans will not enjoy the short fields so often created by their interceptions.

Without those short fields, in a game shortened by Notre Dame grinding out the clock on the ground, five touchdowns should be too much of a reach for USC.

My best bet: USC team total Under 34.5 (-111 at FanDuel)

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Notre Dame vs USC spread analysis

This spread remaining below a touchdown is a testament to the respect Notre Dame has re-earned during this five-game winning streak. By beating Clemson and dominating both Syracuse and Boston College, the Irish have regained some of the physical reputation they had garnered entering the season.

Nonetheless, it is not like USC has been playing poorly of late. Suggesting Notre Dame would be favored if this game was in South Bend feels like an overreaction to the last five weeks. In particular, at no point have the Irish faced an offense like the Trojans.

Even without interceptions creating ripe scoring opportunities, USC has one of the best offenses in the country. Notre Dame’s best defense may be its own running game, keeping Caleb Williams and Co. off the field. The last time the Irish defense depended on the offense, Notre Dame lost 21-10 at Ohio State.

Notre Dame vs USC Over/Under analysis

The total of 64.5 in this game still believes in USC’s offense, no matter how much ball control should be expected from Notre Dame. It also is bullish on the Trojans’ defense to follow recent history. 

When USC does not force turnovers, it tends to give up points. If a quality possession is considered one that either features a first-and-10 inside the plus-40 or ends in a long touchdown (moments when it is more likely than not that a team will score), then the Trojans give up 4.27 points per quality possession. That ranks 91st in the country.

Combine that with Notre Dame’s wretched red-zone defense, and this game should see most drives end in touchdowns. The Irish have allowed touchdowns on 21 of 27 opposing drives inside the 20. Only North Carolina and Arizona have worse red-zone defenses.

Keep that in mind whenever a drive gains momentum. Live-betting algorithms will stop short of assuming a touchdown will be scored, but it should be all but expected on Saturday night.

Notre Dame vs USC betting trend to know

The Over is 5-0 in Notre Dame’s last five games as well as in USC’s last five contests. Find more NCAA betting trends for Notre Dame vs. USC.

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Notre Dame vs USC game info

Location: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, CA
Date: Saturday, November 26, 2022
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET
TV: ABC

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