USC vs. Notre Dame: Last-Minute Spread Info, Line, BCS Impact and Predictions

Eric BowmanFeatured ColumnistOctober 20, 2011

LOS ANGELES - NOVEMBER 27:  Wide receiver Robert Woods #13 of the USC Trojans carries the ball against cornerback Darrin Walls #2 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on November 27, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.  Notre Dame won 20-16.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

The USC Trojans hit the road for the second straight week, and they're looking to reclaim their win streak over the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. 

Brian Kelly beat Lane Kiffin and the Trojans in California a year ago to end an eight-game losing streak. The Fighting Irish didn't get off to a great start this season, but they've rebounded well. 

Both Notre Dame and USC desperately need a victory this weekend in order to get back into the Top 25, which is why this will be one of the best games of Week 8.

Another loss for either team will put both teams in a bind for the rest of the season. 

With that said, let's take a look at some specifics of this big rivalry. 

When: Saturday, Oct. 22 at 7:30 p.m ET 

Where: Notre Dame Stadium, Notre Dame, IN

Watch: NBC

Spread 

The Fighting Irish are favored at -9, which is too high for me. I think Notre Dame should win this game, but the Trojans can keep it close and make a game out of it. Take USC and the points because Matt Barkley will do enough to make sure the Trojans hang in there.  

Over/Under 

The over/under is set at 58, and once again it's too high for my liking. Both teams have great offenses, but for the total to be more than 58 is a bit of a reach. Notre Dame's defense can make big stops, and even though they're coming off a bye, the offense will struggle early. 

Key Injuries 

For Notre Dame, defensive end Ethan Johnson (ankle) is probable, and linebacker Manti Te'o (ankle) is expected to play. 

For USC, starting running back Marc Tyler (shoulder) is doubtful for Saturday, but corner back Anthony Brown (ankle) is out for the season after breaking his ankle last week. 

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 13:  Matt Barkley #7 of the USC Trojans passes the ball against the California Golden Bears at AT&T Park on October 13, 2011 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

BCS/Top 25 Implications 

The Trojans are 5-1 right now and a win over Notre Dame could put them back in the rankings. They also need this win for morale as the Trojans take on Stanford next week. 

The Fighting Irish are 4-2, and a win on Saturday could push them back into the rankings as well. There's no guarantee, but another win would help the Irish in the eyes of the computers and also continue to boost their confidence.

Keys to USC Win 

The Trojans have to establish a run game so Matt Barkley can have a better chance of completing the big plays. Curtis McNeal did a good job filling in for Tyler last week against Cal, but he's going up against much tougher defense. 

Since USC is playing on the road, eliminating turnovers is very key. The defense is going to give up points, which means the offense has to elevate their game. 

Keys to Notre Dame Win 

The Fighting Irish must not commit turnovers or they will have a hard time winning. Too many times this season they have shot themselves in the foot, and because of that, they either lost or the game was entirely too close. 

Having a balanced offensive attack is also key, as it will keep the Trojans guessing all game long. Tommy Rees is finding his groove, as well as running back Cierre Wood. 

Prediction 

The bye week definitely helps the Fighting Irish immensely in this game, and because they're at home, I give them the edge. Matt Barkley may be the better quarterback, but Notre Dame has the better offense as a whole. Brian Kelly gets a much-needed victory and starts his own win streak against the Trojans. 

Notre Dame 31, USC 24

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