USC vs. Notre Dame Gameday Guide: Matchups, lineups, links, odds and more

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 31: Kedon Slovis #9 of the USC Trojans reacts after his completion during the game against the Fresno State Bulldogs at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on August 31, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 31: Kedon Slovis #9 of the USC Trojans reacts after his completion during the game against the Fresno State Bulldogs at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on August 31, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

USC vs. Notre Dame

Notre Dame Stadium | South Bend, IN4:30 p.m. Pacific | NBCAll-time series: Notre Dame leads 48-37-5Last meeting: Notre Dame 24, USC 17 in 2018

The 91st edition of the greatest intersectional rivalry in college football has finally arrived.

For USC, the wait to get a shot at Notre Dame in South Bend included a bye week, during which they worked to get healthy and to shake off the sting of a loss to Washington in Seattle.

The Irish didn’t have a bye, but it might as well have been. They beat up on Bowling Green with a 52-0 win to move to 4-1 on the season. Their one loss was a tightly-played contest with Georgia in Athens.

Is Notre Dame a legitimate playoff contender? Can USC keep the heat off of Clay Helton for another weak with an unexpected win?

All that and more will be answered on Saturday afternoon.

Gameday Links:

Preview Podcast:

Co-hosts Michael Castillo and Alicia de Artola preview the Notre Dame matchup by looking at ways the Trojans could prevail, Over/Unders, predictions and more.

LISTEN: USC vs. ND Preview

Having trouble? Download the episode or listen on iTunesGoogle Play or Stitcher.

USC football injury report

    • LB Solomon Tuliaupupu (foot)
    • OL Andrew Vorhees (foot)
    • QB JT Daniels (knee)
  • OUT:
    • DL Jacob Lichtenstein (calf)
    • LB Jordan Iosefa (knee)
    • LB Elijah Winston (turf toe)
    • TE Ethan Rae (knee)
    • WR Kyle Ford (knee)
    • WR Bru McCoy (illness)

Notre Dame football injury report

  • OUT: 
    • CB Shaun Crawford (elbow)
    • DL Daelin Hayes (shoulder)
    • OL Quinn Carroll (knee)
    • WR Kevin Austin (suspended)
    • WR Jafar Armstrong (groin)
    • WR Chase Claypool (ankle)
    • WR Lawrence Keys (foot)
    • WR Braden Lenzy (concussion)

When USC has the ball…

USC’s Air Raid attack hasn’t exactly taken off in 2019 and it won’t get any easier this week against a stout Notre Dame defense.

The Irish are led by outstanding defensive ends Julian Okwara and Khalid Kareem, who have combined for 7.5 sacks already this year. Making life more difficult for opposing offenses are All-American candidates in the secondary like Alohi Gilman.

The Trojans hope they will get a boost with the return of quarterback Kedon Slovis, who has been cleared from a concussion. A week of rest has also done receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown some good as he has been playing through a foot concern.

The big question is whether Notre Dame will deploy a similar defense as worked out for BYU and Washington, dropping eight into coverage and daring the Trojans to run.

USC has three capable running backs in Vavae Malepeai, Stephen Carr and Markese Stepp, but their willingness or ability to embrace a “Ground Raid” has been lacking.

Notre Dame Defense

  • DE #42 Julian Okwara, Sr.
  • DT #95 Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, Jr.
  • NG #41 Kurt Hinish, Jr.
  • DE #53 Khalid Kareem, Sr.
  • BUCK #22 Asmar Bilal, RS-Sr.
  • MIKE #40 Drew White, Jr.
  • ROV #6 Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Jr.
  • CB #5 Troy Pride Jr., Sr.
  • FS #11 Alohi Gilman, Sr.
  • SS #21 Jalen Elliott, Sr.
  • CB #28 TaRiq Bracy, So.

USC Offense

  • LT #73 Austin Jackson, Jr.
  • LG #75 Alijah Vera-Tucker, RS-So.
  • C #62 Brett Neilon, RS-So.
  • RG #70 Jalen McKenzie, RS-So.
  • RT #53 Drew Richmond, RS-Sr.
  • TE #84 Erik Krommenhoek, Jr.
  • X #6 Michael Pittman, Sr.
  • A #1 Velus Jones, RS-Jr.
  • Y #8 Amon-Ra St. Brown, So.
  • Z #21 Tyler Vaughns, RS-Jr.
  • RB #29 Vavae Malepeai, RS-Jr.
  • QB #9 Kedon Slovis, Fr.

When Notre Dame has the ball…

The Irish have a strong backfield composed of quarterback Ian Book and running back Tony Jones. Those playmakers are helped by a commanding offensive line.

USC’s defensive line at least might have the juice to give them fits the way Georgia managed to limit the Irish offense.

Down the field, the Irish have dealt with a slew of wide receiver injuries and aren’t guaranteed to have leading receiver Chase Claypool available. Third-leading pass catcher Javon McKinley is also in doubt.

That’s a help for the Trojans, who return Talanoa Hufanga and Olaijah Griffin from injury at safety and cornerback respectively. A finally-healthy secondary could even the playing field, though USC’s penchant for big mistakes is still something to be wary of.

Notre Dame Offense

  • WR #13 Chase Claypool, Sr.
  • WR #10 Chris Finke, RS-Sr.
  • LT #74 Liam Eichenberg, Sr.
  • LG #69 Aaron Banks, Jr.
  • C #55 Jarrett Patterson, So.
  • RG #78 Tommy Kraemer, Sr.
  • RT #72 Robert Hainsey, Jr.
  • TE #84 Cole Kmet, Jr.
  • WR #87 Michael Young, Jr.
  • QB #12 Ian Book, Sr.
  • RB #6 Tony Jones Jr., Sr.

USC Defense

  • DE #89 Christian Rector, RS-Sr.
  • DT #78 Jay Tufele, RS-So.
  • NT #51 Marlon Tuipulotu, RS-So.
  • DE #99 Drake Jackson, Fr.
  • SLB #31 Hunter Echols, RS-So.
  • MLB #1 Palaie Gaoteote, So.
  • WLB #10 John Houston, RS-Sr.
  • CB #6 Isaac Taylor-Stuart, RS-Fr.
  • FS #21 Isaiah Pola-Mao, RS-So.
  • SS #7 Chase Williams, RS-Fr.
  • NK #9 Greg Johnson, RS-So.
  • CB #8 Chris Steele, Fr.

Odds (Notre Dame -10):

Notre Dame is favored by 10 over USC in South Bend, similar to the line of 11 the Trojans faced when they went on the road to face Washington. They failed to cover that line in Seattle, falling to 3-2 against the spread so far in 2019.

The Irish are 4-1 against the spread by comparison. They couldn’t cover a 20-point line against Louisville to start the year, but have since been on the right side of the line.