ND +4 vs USC
11/27 Los Angeles Coliseum 8pm ET on ABC
As some of you may have noticed by now, the official Vegas odds have been OFF for this game and have yet to be posted. While the most obvious reason lies with the unknown status of USC quarterback Matt Barkley, there are still other issues to consider before making your wager.
First off, we doubt Lane Kiffin is going to give us any clues as to whether or not Barkley will play before kickoff. With USC’s season ending after the regular season due to their bowl ineligibility, we believe that if Kiffin thinks Barkley can play at all, he’ll get the start as they have nothing to lose at this point by protecting their QB for a bigger opponent down the road.
Thus, we have decided to post the one spread that has been made available in Vegas, which is from Stations Casino and Sports Book. With ND at +4, it would appear that most people are doubting that Barkley will play as you would have to assume the first 3 points for home-field advantage to begin with. If Barkley was assumed to be playing, we’d think this line moves closer to +6.5 for ND.
With ND’s defense going the past 11 quarters without giving up a touchdown, we have a little bit of momentum on our side going into the final game. Tommy Rees has shown he is capable of getting the ball in the air, and with Theo Riddick back this week, we have another viable threat should Michael Floyd be doubled.
USC on the other hand still has the more athletic group, and coming off a 36-7 loss to Oregon State, should definitely be motivated to win their last home game. At 7-4, the biggest issue with USC this year appears to be inconsistent play, as they hung in there during a 37-35 shootout loss at #6 Stanford, got destroyed by 21 at home against #1 Oregon, and then went on the road to beat a tough #18 Arizona 24-21. All in all, 5 of their 11 games this year have been decided by 3 points or less, which is how we are expecting this one to end up.
One last thing to consider, even if Barkley doesn’t play, their current #2 is Mitch Mustain, who in case you don’t remember went 8-0 as a true freshman starter for Arkansas in 2006. Although he hasn’t played much being behind Barkley and previously Mark Sanchez, their #2 is basically the starter on 95% of the teams out there. Something to consider.
With a bowl game on the line, as well as a way to quiet down some of the adversity facing Notre Dame and the football team this week, we like ND to win this one outright and take a three game win streak to a third tier bowl game in December.
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