Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs USC Trojans - College Football Picks

Joe Gavazzi

Friday, November 25, 2016 7:37 PM UTC

Friday, Nov. 25, 2016 7:37 PM UTC

The perception is that these teams are miles apart. The reality is that there is not much separating these programs. Joe Gavazzi explains with his College Football Pick.

Notre Dame vs USC (-17) 3:30 PM ET

Each week on these pages, I isolate a contest in which the two teams are perceived in very opposite ways. It results in extraordinary value for one side, usually an underdog, who overachieves in the contest and is capable of winning the contest outright. Such is the case in this late season annual rivalry matchup of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the USC Trojans. With USC playing like the best team in the country and Notre Dame struggling to a rare losing season, we confidently line up with the Fighting Irish at this huge value price in what they will surely perceive to be their Bowl game. 

Recent USC seasons have been the CFB version of a soap opera. Rotating head coaches and quarterbacks has led to much instability in the program. At least for now, that all appears to have changed in the first full season under Trojan HC Helton. At the end of September, the Trojans were 1-3 SU, ATS with losses of 46 to Alabama, 17 at Stanford and 4 at Utah. It looked like another debacle reminiscent of last year’s 8-6 SU season. As the calendar turned to October, however, the Trojan fortunes turned around. Since October 1st, USC is 7-0 SU, 6-1 ATS failing to cover against only Colorado when they outgained the Buffs 539-371 but barely survived a -3 net TO margin. In the last 4 weeks, they have dispatched an instate rival Cal, 45-24, beaten PAC 10 nemesis Oregon 45-20, knocked off league leader Washington, 26-13 and last week destroyed arch rival UCLA 36-14 with a 527-266 yardage edge. Having defeated Notre Dame 31-17 last year with 590 offensive yards and the previous season 49-14, what is left for the Trojans to prove. Behind newly inserted QB Darnold, the offense is balanced and explosive averaging 32/473.  And the defense allows just 22/355. 

At the other end of the national spectrum is a Notre Dame team who has lost their way under 7th year HC Kelly. With just 10 returning starters, 5 to each side of the ball, some could see it coming. A 3 point loss at Texas is, in retrospect, a poor showing similar to a September 36-28 loss to Michigan State, yet another sub .500 CFB program of great repute. There have also been setbacks to Duke, NC State, Stanford and Navy. But the final icing on the cake came last week in their LHG. With still an opportunity to rally for a 6 win season and bowl bid, the Irish led the Hokie by 17 points. The eventual 34-31 loss has sent them careening to 4-7 SU with no invitation to the post-season party. That makes this week their bowl game. Catching the Trojans off a month’s worth of key Conference victories along with the Irish double revenge motive makes this the perfect spot to come inside a number that is inflated by more than two TD’s from where it would have been opening week. I invite you to put the College Football ODDS in your favor and join me in my College Football PICK on Notre Dame this afternoon.

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Free College Football Pick: Notre Dame +18Best Line Offered: at Bookmaker

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