College Football Week 13: #1 Notre Dame At USC
- CoachingNotre Dame is the No. 1 team in the country. Let that sink in for a moment. The Fighting Irish are one win away from a spot in the national championship.You don’t even have to listen that closely to hear the calls for Lane Kiffin to be fired. After all, USC was the preseason No. 1 and is now 7-4 after last week’s loss to rival UCLA.
- OffenseInconsistent at times this season, the Irish offense was incredible efficient against lowly Wake Forest last week, totaling 584 yards.We have to evaluate USC’s offense sans quarterback Matt Barkley, who injured his shoulder last week and won’t play on Saturday, and that’s not easy considering redshirt freshman Max Wittek will make his first career start in his place. All we know about him is that he said USC will win this game.
- DefenseDominant all season, the Irish pitched its first shutout of the year last week. It has faced every sort of attack this season and should have plenty of confidence against the Trojans.UCLA scored on its first four possessions last week, getting out to a 24-0 lead. The Trojans settled in after that, but consistency has been a problem for this unit.
- Special TeamsND’s special teams obviously haven’t cost it a game, but they haven’t been good.USC had a punt blocked last week. Their special teams strength lies in the return game.
It’s not that surprising one of these teams is ranked No. 1. But everyone thought, at least back in September, that it would be USC, not Notre Dame. USC hasn’t beaten a team of ND’s caliber this season and, without its quarterback, will have trouble pulling off the upset. -Andrew Kahn, College Football Contributor