Notre Dame vs. USC NCAAF Week 13: Can the Trojans Make the College Football Playoff?

Caleb Williams Usc Trojans NCAA Football
Caleb Williams #13 of the USC Trojans runs for a touchdown against the Colorado Buffaloes in the first half. Ronald Martinez/Getty Images/AFP

For the first time since the College Football Playoff was invented, fans and bettors lack a lot of clarity at this point in the season. Many teams could turn things around and make it to the CFP. One team looking to do that is USC.

The Trojans have only one loss this year, and they are coming off a close win against a bitter rival. Another rivalry game will ensue this weekend, and USC needs an emphatic win to keep its CFP hopes alive.

Notre Dame had a slow start to the season, but the Fighting Irish are 8-3, with one game left in the regular season. They are on a five-game win streak, including wins against Clemson and Syracuse.

Notre Dame has a solid offensive line and a few weapons, but the Trojans have one of the most explosive offenses in college football. Caleb Williams will be a top draft prospect in 2024, and he could be a Heisman contender as well.

Who will cover the spread? How will this game impact the College Football Playoff? Let’s break down the betting odds and everything you need to know.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. USC Trojans

Saturday, November 26, 2022 – 07:30 PM EST at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum

A Must-Win Game for USC

USC has a genuine shot to make it to the College Football Playoff, but they have to win this game handily. In all honesty, they probably need a few things to go their way as well. Georgia would need to beat LSU, and a TCU loss would cement things.

USC looks better than it has in over a decade, but the Trojans won’t receive the benefit of the doubt like other teams might. Say what you want about the CFP selection committee, but there is a bias. The Trojans are a large program, but teams in the Pac-12 have been undervalued for a long time.

So, what can USC do to boost its case? It will take more than a victory. USC needs to cover the spread and step up defensively. The defense is the only true knock on this team, so proving that they can clamp down on the Fighting Irish would go a long way.

A Heisman Moment for Caleb Williams?

Caleb Williams has been a Heisman contender all year, but he has not been in the top tier for a while. Between his amazing performance last week and the injury to Hendon Hooker, most sportsbooks have him as the second-best bet to win the award behind CJ Stroud.

To win the Heisman, it feels like Williams will have to be the catalyst while USC makes it to the College Football Playoff. It might also take a poor performance from CJ Stroud against Michigan.

Heisman moments happen in the biggest games of the season, and this is one of those for both Williams and USC. This is one of the most underrated rivalries in college football, and there is plenty on the line for this one.

Keys to Cover

On offense, USC will once again have to get creative with how they use Caleb Williams. He can distribute the ball well, and he can also extend plays with his legs. Because of this, he has to be utilized in key moments. You want the ball in his hands when the game is on the line.

On defense, USC needs to stop Michael Mayer. He is one of the two best tight ends in college football, and you can’t let him torch the middle of the defense. Without him, the Fighting Irish have no chance of keeping up.

Notre Dame will look to contain Williams in the pocket. On offense, they need to run the ball consistently and keep the pace of this game in their favor. If they can establish the trenches, this will go down to the wire.

The Picks

Crazy things happen in Rivalry Week, and this game feels like it could get crazy. On paper, the Trojans are the better team with the advantage of playing at home. However, they have everything to lose.

I think the Trojans eventually win, but the value of Notre Dame to cover the spread is too enticing for me.

For the total, give me the over. We will see trick plays, deep shots and mayhem on Saturday. Buckle up for a great one.

NCAAF Pick: Notre Dame +6.5 (-110) via BetMGM

NCAAF Pick: Over 61.5 (-112) via Unibet