USC and Notre Dame didn't meet in 2020, for the first time since World War II, but thankfully for all college football fans, that rivalry renews Saturday.
Neither team is in a stable place exactly, but the Fighting Irish's concerns under center are considerably more easy to manage than the mess USC remains in.
With two teams headed in different directions, here are our free college football picks and predictions for USC at Notre Dame on October 23.
USC vs Notre Dame odds
Odds via the Covers Line, an average comprised of odds from multiple sportsbooks.
The earliest lines on Sunday opened with Notre Dame favored by 4.0 or 4.5 points, but that quickly rose to 6.5, quickly enough that most books never opened lower than 6.0. By Tuesday, some books had the Irish as touchdown favorites, with both -6.5 and -7.0 widely available throughout the week before consolidating at -7.0 on Friday. The total began the week at 58.5, and aside from a momentary midweek drop to 57.5, it has remained at 58.5.
USC vs Notre Dame picks
Picks made on 10/22/2021 at 4:15 p.m. ET.
Click on each pick to jump to the full analysis.
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USC vs Notre Dame game info
• Location: Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, IN
• Date: Saturday, October 23, 2021
• Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
• TV: NBC
USC vs Notre Dame betting preview
Be sure to monitor the gametime conditions with our NCAA football weather info.
USC: Michael Trigg TE (Out), Drake Jackson LB (Questionable), Jaxson Dart QB (Doubtful), Solomon Tuliaupupu LB (Questionable), Manino Tufono DL (Questionable), Frank Martin OL (Questionable), Kyle Ford WR (Questionable), Chris Thompson S (Questionable).
Notre Dame: Chris Tyree RB (Questionable), Michael Mayer TE (Probable), Tyler Buchner QB (Probable), Cane Berrong TE (Out), Kevin Bauman TE (Out), Joe Wilkins WR (Out).
Find our latest NCAA football injury reports.
Betting trend to know
The home team is 6-1 ATS in the last seven meetings of this rivalry, dating back to 2013, and the favorite is 6-2 ATS in the last eight meetings. Find more NCAA betting trends for USC vs. Notre Dame.
USC vs Notre Dame predictions
Notre Dame -7.0 (-110)
The Irish winning by multiple scores would be a change for them, something they have done only once this season, and that 41-13 win against Wisconsin featured three special teams or defensive touchdowns in the fourth quarter. But it would be par for the course for USC, which has been in only one game this year that was as close as two touchdowns.
Be it a result of Clay Helton’s firing after just two games or a general team disposition, the Trojans seem to rely on the flow of a game for their momentum. If they are playing well, they roll. If things go against them slightly, they collapse.
Heading into the low 40-degree temperatures of northwestern Indiana in primetime sets up an argument for the latter of those possibilities.
Furthermore, USC will be the weakest defense Notre Dame has faced this season. The Irish may not have a high-octane offense, but it finally has a chance to flex a bit, escaping the quartet of top-30 defenses it faced in the first half of the season.
Under 58.5 (-110)
The Trojans offense is built around one player, star receiver Drake London. Against most of the country, London can continue on his pace of nearly 11 catches and 140 yards per game. But Notre Dame may have the exact foil for him in star junior safety Kyle Hamilton.
Hamilton described London as “like looking in the mirror” physique-wise. Indeed, they both stand 6-foot-4 to 6-foot-5 and neither is the fastest player on the field, yet both cover plenty of ground with their long strides.
The Irish will almost assuredly assign Hamilton to London throughout Saturday evening, daring USC to find another way to beat them. Stopping London entirely may not be possible, but limiting him to only a handful of catches and fewer than 100 yards may be enough to stymie the Trojans' offense on a broader scale.
At that point, even against USC’s lesser defense, Notre Dame should not be trusted to score enough to threaten this total.
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