College Football: USC and Notre Dame Struggling to Establish Identity

Al Dannity | Updated Oct 27, 2017

Notre Dame reeled off four straight wins after dropping their opening two games. The USC Trojans have done enough to win in all their outings with one noticeable exception at Arizona State. All Dannity tries to make sense of these two programs before their meeting in South Bend on Saturday night.

Weight off their shoulders

The Fighting Irish enter their annual match-up with USC in the best mental shape in years. Gone is the hoodoo of facing the Trojans, with a lengthy run of defeats ended last season. The early struggles of this season have also faded, with Notre Dame looking much stronger than the outfit that dropped games to South Florida and Michigan. Tommy Rees isn’t making anywhere near as many mistakes and he’s been supplemented well by Andrewi Hendrix as a change of pace option. They’re no Chris Leak and Tim Tebow yet but given time, Rees and Hendrix could make quite the partnership this season. College Football betting fans should expect to see situational use of Hendrix on Saturday night.

Delaying the inevitable

USC won’t begin to feel the brunt of the NCAA’s sanctions for another year but there is already a sense of the inevitable hanging over the program. In their first season under Lane Kiffin, the Trojans looked far from the invincible force that conquered all before them. The defeat, at home no less, to the Irish in 2010 heralded the dark times that lie ahead. So far in 2011, the Trojans have just about managed to keep their heads above water.

Narrow wins over Minnesota (1-5), Arizona (1-5), and Utah (3-3) have helped. Life is about to get a lot harder and I don’t just mean the future scholarship reductions. The three Pac-12 opponents USC have beaten have a combined record of 0-10 in the conference in 2011. The soft part of the schedule is now over. Now they must contend with a road trip to Notre Dame before hitting the meat of their Pac-12 slate.

The verdict

Notre Dame’s BCS hopes, slim as they may be, rest heavily on two of their remaining six games. The latter of which, against Stanford, will see them heavily unfavored. That can wait. Right now they have to take care of part one against the Trojans. This is far from a bad USC team but Kiffin’s Trojans are not as good as their 5-1 record suggests. They struggled against mediocre opposition and have never shown the intimidating force of the Pete Carroll era. I like Brian Kelly to show the Fighting Irish are back on track this Saturday night with a big primetime win over the Trojans!