Fighting Irish seeking to extend home ATS streak against Trojans

Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book against Bowling Green, October 2019
Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
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Fresh off a dominating shutout win over Bowling Green, No. 9 Notre Dame is an 11-point favorite against USC on Saturday in South Bend (7:30 p.m. ET/6:30 p.m. CT, NBC).

The Fighting Irish are 5-0 against the spread in their last five home games and have won 17 out of their last 19 overall straight up. Their Saturday opponent, on the other hand, is 1-4 ATS over its last five road games, and 6-14 ATS over its last 20 overall.

QB Ian Book and the Irish (4-1 SU and ATS) dismantled Bowling Green 52-0 at Notre Dame Stadium last week, covering one of the largest spreads in school history. Now they welcome a Trojan team (3-2 SU, 2-3 ATS) mired in inconsistency and coaching controversy throughout the first half of the season.

USC freshman QB Kedon Slovis will start Saturday for the first time since sustaining a concussion early on in the Trojans’ Week 4 win over Utah.

Despite Slovis getting the green light, the USC offense is going to have a difficult time moving the ball against a Notre Dame defense that is hitting its stride, surrendering just three points over its last six quarters of action.

After the season’s original starter J.T Daniels went down with a torn ACL in the first half of the season opener, both Trojan backup QBs have struggled mightily on the road.

The week before Utah, Slovis struggled in his first career road start at BYU, throwing three interceptions in a 30-27 overtime loss as 4.5-point favorites. Fink followed suit in the Trojans’ Week 5 loss at Washington, posting a meager 163 passing yards and three picks.

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Last year’s tilt against Notre Dame at L.A. Memorial Coliseum was USC’s final game of the season. It was also a turning point in USC coach Clay Helton’s short and shaky tenure, as the former Trojan coordinator elected to change his offense to a more up-tempo, passing-centered attack. The change worked: Daniels threw for 349 yards and kept the game close before Notre Dame held on for a 24-17 win. USC cashed as 10-point dogs.

This time around, USC is coming off a bye. With two weeks to prepare for Saturday’s matchup in South Bend, the Trojans have a chance to throw their best punch. Notre Dame, though, has dictated proceedings in this matchup in recent years.

The Irish have won five out of their last seven against the Trojans and are 4-1 ATS over their last five home games in this series. Last week’s game against lowly Bowling Green hardly served as a distraction, as coach Brian Kelly prepares his team for the meat of the regular season.

Saturday’s total sits at 57.5, bet down from an opener of 61. UNDER bettors have cashed in six of Notre Dame’s last eight games.

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