Biggest School Rivalry Betting Preview & Free College Football Picks

David Lawrence

Friday, October 16, 2015 5:15 PM GMT

Friday, Oct. 16, 2015 5:15 PM GMT

The USC Trojans & Notre Dame Fighting Irish make up one of the most special rivalries in all of college football, as this game approaches, we have in store the best college football pick.

Momentum
The Trojans aren’t just coming off a terrible 17-12 loss at home versus Washington; they are reeling after head coach Steve Sarkisian showed up drunk to a meeting on Sunday and was not on time for practice. He was placed on leave by athletic director Pat Haden on Sunday, but then he was terminated on Monday. The brief career of Sarkisian as USC’s head coach ended five games into his season. Two years earlier, Lane Kiffin – his predecessor – was fired five games into the season. Both men were young hotshot offensive coordinators for a period of time under former coach Pete Carroll, and both of them failed. USC isn’t just looking for a new coach; it is trying to do damage control after seeing Sarkisian plunge into deep personal troubles. How will this team stay focused in the coming week and also play at a higher level? It’s going to be very hard.

Notre Dame is coming off a much-needed win over Navy. The Fighting Irish scored 41 points by taking advantage of the turnovers Navy committed. The play of DeShone Kizer as the backup to injured starter Malik Zaire has been very impressive. If he can continue to play at this level, the Irish will be in contention for a major bowl game at season’s end.

 

Line Moves
The college football odds started with this game as a 4-point game for Notre Dame. Then it moved to Notre Dame being a 6.5-point favorite. Bettors know what’s happening: USC doesn’t have a permanent head coach. The Steve Sarkisian saga has been so draining and distracting and time-consuming that USC should not be expected to play its best. The Trojans haven’t just lost a coach, either; they have seen a coach tumble into personal problems and not show up on time for a Sunday practice. This is a bizarre situation, and while USC might be fired up early, that can only go so far. The Trojans need leadership, and no bettor should realistically expect USC to get as much in this game. That’s why you’ve seen such movement with the line.

 

Notable Injuries
USC has defensive tackle Claude Pelton listed as doubtful for this game with a knee injury. Center Max Tuerk is out for the season with a knee injury. Offensive lineman Khaliel Rodgers is questionable for personal reasons. Wide receiver Darreus Rogers is questionable with a hamstring injury. Wide receiver Steven Mitchell is doubtful with an ankle injury.  

Notre Dame has lost several players to season-ending injuries before September 16. Only one fresh injury (and even then, it’s fairly old) is worth mentioning: On September 21, defensive back Drue Tranquil was knocked out for the season with an ACL injury. Notre Dame has basically carried on for a full month without new injuries, but also while missing several players who were supposed to be important core parts of the roster in 2015.

 

Handicapping The Game
The distractions surrounding USC are considerable. It’s going to be hard for USC just to play a normal game under these circumstances. The complicating part is that USC hasn’t been playing well. This is just not an environment in which one should expect improvement from USC. Notre Dame should cover, so take them with your college football picks.

College Football Pick: Notre Dame -5.5 at Pinnacle

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