USC vs Notre Dame 2017: The matchup by the numbers

Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Joe Robbins/Getty Images /

Saturday in South Bend, USC vs. Notre Dame will square off in a titanic bout full of playoff implications. Here are some interesting statistics on the upcoming rivalry game.

After back-to-back wins in the Coliseum, the Men of Troy will go on the road once again. In Week 8 the Trojans will face their toughest test of the season against the 13 ranked Fighting Irish of Notre Dame.

This year the battle for the Jeweled Shillelagh holds more weight than normal as both USC and Notre Dame have College Football Playoff hopes.

Notre Dame is coming off a bye week and looking to continue their winning ways. While USC will look to recover from an emotional win over Utah and prepare for another road test.

Let’s take at some interesting stats as we build up to another game in this rivalry series:

The rivalry

The USC and Notre Dame rivalry began in 1926 and to date the Irish hold the lead in the series, 45-37-5.

Saturday’s matchup will mark the first time that both teams have been ranked in the AP poll since 2009.

Though USC has won 11 of the last 15 meetings, Notre Dame has won in South Bend the last two times the Men of Troy have come to town. This trip, however, will be the Trojans’ first trip to the newly renovated Notre Dame stadium.

Nine yards per carry

The Notre Dame running back will be the latest in a long line of talented ball carriers to challenge the USC defense. Adams has rushed for 776 yards so far in 2017 and is averaging a staggering nine yards per carry.

The junior’s yards per carry average is ranked second in the nation, behind Stanford’s Bryce love at 10.27 YPC.

Adams is also explosive despite his 6-foot-2, 225-pound frame. The junior tailback has over 10 runs of 15 yards or more, as well as six runs of 59 yards or more. USC will have its hands full with Adams especially if senior nose tackle Josh Fatu is unable to play due to a concussion.

More experience, more talent

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are ranked sixth in passing defense, according to S&P+. However, the Irish have faced inexperience at the quarterback position.

Notre Dame opened 2017 against Temple, whose starting quarterback Logan Marachi was making his first start and only playing in his fourth career game.

Then in a loss, Notre Dame faced Jake Fromm from Georgia, who was making his first career start.

Against Boston College, the Irish took advantage of Anthony Brown, who was another first-year starter. Brown was only making his third start against the vaunted Notre Dame pass defense.

The Fighting Irish then took on Michigan State, who’s quarterback, Brian Lewerke, had only made four starts before facing Notre Dame in their 38-18 loss.

The two most experienced quarterbacks Notre Dame has battled to this point in 2017 are North Carolina’s Chazz Surratt and Miami of Ohio’s Gus Ragland.

Surratt is still a freshman and a first-year starter. However, he had made five starts before facing Notre Dame.

Ragland was the most experienced quarterback the Irish faced, making 11 starts before the 52-17 loss.

Sam Darnold will be the most experienced and most talented quarterback that Notre Dame has faced this year.

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Darnold has made 17 starts in his USC career, including a 45-27 victory over the Irish in 2016. While that game was highlighted by Adoree’ Jackson’s farewell to USC, Darnold threw for 205 yards and 2 touchdowns, without any interceptions.

Run game wins

USC already has a magic number of carries for Ronald Jones II: The Trojans have not lost a game in which Jones II has had over 14 carries. That trend continued with his 17 carries for 111 yards in a victory over Utah.

However, this week the run game will play another important role. Going back to 2013, the team which has won the rushing battle has won the game.

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While Darnold may be the most-talented and experienced quarterback that Notre Dame has faced, USC must still establish the run game if they are going to get a victory in South Bend.