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Stacking Up The Notre Dame Offense vs. USC Defense

A look at how the Notre Dame offense stacks up against the USC defense

Notre Dame comes out of the bye week looking to get its struggling offense on track. It will have to do so against a USC defense that has had its own issues this season. The winner of this matchup will have a significant outcome on the final score, and will send whoever comes out on top into the second half of the season with much-needed momentum.

Here's a breakdown of how Notre Dame stacks up against the Trojan defense.

Notre Dame Rush Offense vs USC Rush Defense

ND Rush Offense vs USC

Advantage: USC

Notre Dame's rush offense has been awful all season, but the Irish are coming off their best game of the season, by far. The Irish racked up a season high 180 yards (4.2 YPC) in the 32-29 road win over Virginia Tech, a team that ranked 62nd and 79th in rush defense and yards allowed per rush, which is close to where the Trojans rank.

Despite that 180-yard performance the Irish are one of the lowest ranked rushing teams in the country. Notre Dame will have another new starter up front (Andrew Kristofic) and the staff needs to find a way to get a repeat performance of what we saw against the Hokies. It wasn't a great performance, but with the pass game weapons Notre Dame has its certainly good enough to beat USC and the rest of the teams on the schedule.

USC has held three of its six opponents to under 100 yards rushing, which is a good mark. Two of its other three remaining opponents went for at least 180 yards, with Oregon State racking up 322 yards on the ground against the Trojans as the Beavers won in the Coliseum for the first time in 60 years.

USC is also banged up along the trenches, so this is a game that Notre Dame should be able to find success. I can't give Notre Dame the advantage because it played solid in one game, but if the Irish do in fact repeat their most recent performance of playing hard, being more assignment correct and hopefully clean up the penalties they should have a some success against the Trojans.

Notre Dame Pass Offense vs USC Pass Defense

ND Pass Offense vs USC

Advantage: Notre Dame

Notre Dame's advantage here isn't significant, as the Irish offense is still benefitting from the first two games of the season when it went for 366 and 317 yards through the air. Notre Dame hasn't topped 260 yards since and has averaged less than 8.0 yards per attempt in three of the last four games.

The big play offense we saw in the first three games mostly disappeared until the Virginia Tech game, and even then it was just two big plays. Notre Dame continues to have trouble protecting the quarterback, although it had arguably its best pass pro performance of the season against the Hokies.

If the line can protect Jack Coan and OC Tommy Rees actually builds his offense around what Coan does well Notre Dame will flourish. If neither things happen we'll continue to see what we've seen the previous four games.

USC has a talented secondary, but it's a secondary that doesn't play well. Its inability to generate much of a pass rush, and the continuing injury woes for standout end Drake Jackson, make this a matchup that Notre Dame should win handily. 

Three of USC's six opponents have had a season-high in passing yards or yards per pass attempt against the Trojans and two more had their second best performance against USC.

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Notre Dame Scoring Offense vs USC Scoring Defense

ND Scoring Offense vs USC

Advantage: Notre Dame

This is an interesting matchup, as Notre Dame has been better away from home than they have at home, and the same is true of USC. Notre Dame is averaging just 24 points and 377.7 yards per game at home. USC has given up just 14 points per contest in its two road games and 260.5 yards per game in those games.

Notre Dame is a better red zone offense than USC is on defense, USC is a better third-down defense than Notre Dame is a third-down offense.

I give Notre Dame the edge here because simply put they are a more talented team, they are at home and USC's two road games weren't against good opponents. If Notre Dame plays to its potential they will control this matchup. If we see the unit we saw for much of the first six games this will be a much closer game than it should be.

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