USC vs. Notre Dame College Football Week 8 Picks and Predictions

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Kyren Williams #23 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Scott Taetsch/Getty Images/AFP

Can USC upset the Fighting Irish? The top-rated sportsbooks have released their NCAAF odds and they favor Notre Dame by 7 points right now. Is that fair? Here are some keys for each team to cover the single-digit spread this Saturday. After that, we break down the value and make a prediction for this game.

USC Trojans vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Saturday, October 23, 2021 – 07:30 PM EDT at Notre Dame Stadium

The USC Trojans had plenty of hope at the start of the season, but things have spiraled so far this year. Clay Helton is out, and the Trojans are hoping to salvage another failed season.

Despite a potent passing offense, USC is 3-3 due to a weakened running game and a lot of turnovers. However, they have an opportunity to turn things around this week.

USC will travel to play Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish are likely out of CFP contention, but they still have plenty to play for. With only one loss, they are poised for a great bowl game if they can win out. Both teams rested last week, so they should be as healthy as ever. With so much on the line, what can we expect this weekend between these storied programs?

Keys for Notre Dame to Cover the Spread

Notre Dame will be playing at home in a night game. It’s safe to assume that the crowd will play a factor, and that benefits the Fighting Irish. They will need a strong start to get the crowd going, though. Early mistakes can eliminate the momentum you can get from playing at home, and Notre Dame is not built to swing momentum back in their favor.

Look for Kyren Williams to be a playmaker in this game. Williams is one of the most underrated running backs in college football, and he helps the rest of the offense work. He can win between the tackles, but he is also a dynamic back that can be an outlet in the passing game.

Notre Dame needs to be in a situation where they do not have to rely on the passing game. If they are down early, they won’t be able to come back and win by more than a touchdown.

On defense, Notre Dame needs to commit to stopping the passing attack. They should be aggressive on the perimeter with support from the safeties. If they can get pressure from their front four, they will be able to win with more defensive backs.

Keys for USC to Cover the Spread

USC will want to speed up the tempo of this game. They like to win through the air, but Notre Dame wants to win on the ground. If USC can push the tempo of the game, they can force Notre Dame into more mistakes as they try to keep up.

However, this is a risk as well. Slovis is a prolific quarterback, but turnovers have been a concern for the Trojans. As they attack the Notre Dame secondary, they can’t have a ton of turnovers. In a night game on the road, this is a must for the Trojans.

Kedon Slovis #9 of the USC Trojans. Denis Poroy/Getty Images/AFP

Defensively, USC has to flood the box. Kyren Williams is the key to success for Notre Dame, and he has to be eliminated. Specifically, this will be won in the red zone. If they can force field goals instead of touchdowns, they can keep it close until the final whistle.

This is a challenge for the Trojans, but it is manageable. So, who will cover the spread? Here is my NCAAF pick for the game.

Time for a Pick

Both teams are coming off of a bye week, and both have a 3-3 record against the spread this season. USC will be looking to turn their season around with a statement win, and they’ve had two weeks to prepare for this game.

This game will likely hit the over, and that helps USC. They can push the tempo and turn this into a shootout, which benefits the Trojans.

Notre Dame has been lackluster all season. They should be able to win this game, but they have had too many close calls to breed confidence. Three of their five wins were nail-biters, and that could easily happen again.

This could easily be a close game, but the Fighting Irish should win. Still, there’s value with the Trojans covering the spread.

 NCAAF Pick: USC +7 (-115) at Bovada (visit our Bovada Review)

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