Trojans, Irish. It is one of the premier cross sectional match ups in all of sports. Nothing can make these teams relevant in the national spotlight quite like this game on a yearly basis, 2013 is no different and should provide us one of the more intriguing games of the weekend, if not the season.
In an interesting Q&A between Reign of Troy and Slap the Sign of the FanSided network for USC and ND respectively, some points were brought up that scream “ADVANTAGE, TROJANS!”
Not the least of these points brought to light is that the Irish haven’t faced a truly prolific pass rush yet this season. Michigan and Mich. State are pretty good, but they don’t have the size on the front line that USC brings. Simply put, the Trojans are outstanding at creating early pressure on the quarterback.
The way to combat that would be to move the quarterback around and get him out of the pocket to make some throws, but Tommy Reese is not that optimal quarterback against this defense. He also has not show the propensity to make a “big play” with regularity this season. I’d say the Irish need four or five explosive plays if they plan on beating SC on Saturday, I just don’t think Reese has that in his back pocket.
Where Notre Dame could make their hay is up the middle in the run game, as USC’s defensive speed does not often allow edge yards. But again, without the QB to move the pocket, the Irish may struggle against a very locked in front seven.
On the offensive side for SC, the Trojans look like they’ll get Marquis Lee back on the field, which should add an extra dimension to the attack of interim head coach Ed Orgeron and QB Cody Kessler. The Irish are already surrendering 252 yards per game through the air, good for 89th in the FBS.
This should be a great game to watch, but from here, with the return of Marquis and the continued excitement brought in by Orgeron to get back to USC football, I see advantage Trojans.