No. 6 USC and No. 15 Notre Dame claim to have the “greatest intersectional rivalry in college football,” and with national championship stakes back on the line in this year’s showdown, there’s an argument to be had that this series is among the most important in the sport’s history.
Set for its 93rd edition on Saturday night in The Coliseum, the USC-Notre Dame series dates back to 1926 and has only been paused twice — the first time being a three-year hiatus for World War II and one year off during the COVID-19 pandemic-affected 2020 season. Notre Dame holds a 50-37-5 edge in the all-time series, including a 7-3 advantage in the last 10 games.
But while history serves as a fitting backdrop for this series, there is also a theme of renewal as it will be the first time both Lincoln Riley and Marcus Freeman have taken part in this rivalry as head coaches of their respective programs. There’s also the issue of USC’s pursuit of a first-ever College Football Playoff appearance, Caleb Williams closing in on a potential Heisman Trophy and whether Notre Dame can win a sixth straight game to close the season strong and give itself a shot at crashing the New Year’s Six.
Notre Dame vs. USC: Need to know
Caleb Williams building his Heisman Trophy campaign: After leading the Trojans to a win against UCLA and clinching USC’s place in the Pac-12 title game, Williams saw his Heisman odds improve to the point where the award is looking more like a two-horse race. Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud is still the betting favorite, according to Caesars Sportsbook, but the chances for him to be surpassed by Williams will be known by the time we have kickoff given Saturday’s game between Ohio State and Michigan will be final. Williams has 33 touchdowns to just three interceptions, adding 316 rushing yards and seven touchdowns on the season. That’s more total touchdowns (40) than Stroud, and a slightly better touchdown-to-interception rate. Now many voters want to see a “Heisman moment” at the end of the season, and while Stroud will have a massive opportunity to deliver on that early in the day, there’s also going to be a massive audience for this rivalry game which kicks off a huge primetime window on the East Coast.
Notre Dame thrives in November: This program has been elite when it comes time to close out the regular-season schedule, winning 19 games in a row in the month of November. The last time Notre Dame lost in November was at the end of the 2017 season, and the coaching change has not altered that trend with Marcus Freeman leading the Fighting Irish to wins against Clemson, Navy and Boston College so far in this month. Additionally, this year’s team has found some offensive rhythm in the later parts of the season, scoring 35-plus points in five consecutive games for only the second time in program history.
One of the best rivalry trophies in college football: The championship success gives these two programs a good claim to having one of the greatest rivalries in the sport with both USC and Notre Dame claiming 11 national championships in their history. Their annual showdown is also noteworthy for its fantastic rivalry trophy, though. The winner of the game between USC and Notre Dame gets year-long possession of the jeweled Shillelagh, a beautiful jeweled ornament that gets a new piece added for each result in the series — a ruby Trojan head for USC wins, a emerald shamrock for Notre Dame wins. One way or the other, one first-year coach will be in possession of this prized rivalry trophy on the field Saturday night.
How to watch Notre Dame vs. USC live
Date: Saturday, Nov. 26 | Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum — Los Angeles, Calif.
TV: ABC | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
Notre Dame vs. USC prediction, picks
Featured Game | USC Trojans vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
The Trojans are going to find Notre Dame to be one of the tougher tests of the season as the Fighting Irish try to play keep away from Williams with a solid ground game and then complement that with bend-but-don’t break defense. But if forced to choose between Williams and Drew Pyne in a game that I expect to be close, I will side with the Heisman Trophy contender. Prediction: USC -5.5
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