When critiquing the Notre Dame season thus far, many will point out that Jimmy Clausen and the high-flying Irish offense haven’t faced a good defense yet this season, especially one that’s the class of Southern Cal. Before I looked at the numbers, that seemed to make sense. But what about the quality of offenses that USC has played?
While the quality of defenses Notre Dame has faced isn’t high, the quality of offenses faced by the Southern Cal defense is just as dismal. Notre Dame has faced two top fifty passing efficiency defenses, while USC hasn’t faced a single top sixty passing efficiency offense. Obviously these are just numbers with a limited sample size of only five games, but without question, Saturday will mark the stiffest tests for both units.
USC gets the nod here due to having a sort of incumbent’s advantage and the fact they absolutely suffocated the Irish offense last season. However, most of the principles of that defense are now playing on Sunday, and while their replacements are uber-talented, they’re still young, and hopefully a polished quarterback with some quality skill players can move the ball.
(Of course, what about the other side of the ball, when Matt Barkley is looking across the field at Manti Teo? Perhaps the game is decided there, and we have the rest of the week to look closer at that.)