Saturday night’s game between the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the USC Trojans in Memorial Coliseum won’t carry the same weight that it has in past years
That’s no fault on Notre Dame’s. The Irish are ranked No. 3 in the College Football Playoff rankings and a win will cement a playoff berth for them. However, USC is having one of its worst seasons in recent memory. The Trojans are 5-6 and coming off a terrible loss to a 3-8 UCLA team last week. Rumors have swirled about head coach Clay Helton’s job security, but it appears he is safe for now. Would a blowout loss at home to Notre Dame change that at all?
Down the stretch, the Irish have faced some tough tests, as Barton Simmons discussed on the 247Sports College Football Podcast. Notre Dame has beaten the Big Ten West winner on the road, they’ve beaten the ACC Coastal winner, and they’ve beaten a top 15 team on the road. Despite some knocking their schedule, the Irish have put together a solid resume.
“They got through Stanford,” Simmons said. “They got through Virginia Tech on the road. That was the point where I was firmly like they should go undefeated the rest of the way. As I looked at the rest of the schedule with Pitt, Navy, Northwestern, Florida State, Syracuse and USC, I thought Pitt could be tricky. Navy they should win. At Northwestern could be a problem — that’s a losable game. Syracuse in the Bronx could be a problem. That’s a losable game.”
The one game that Simmons wasn’t concerned about Notre Dame losing down the stretch was the road game at USC. That feels crazy to type, but that’s just the reality of where the Trojans are right now. Simmons thinks things could get ugly in Los Angeles and bring about more questions surrounding Helton’s future at USC.
‘Probably the one game on that slate that was like the least intimidating game for me if I’m a Notre Dame person was USC,” Simmons said. “I think they will blow them out. I think Clay Helton will be the coach, and I think that it will be a bloody enough loss for USC to where USC is like, ‘Okay we just lost to a 2-8 [UCLA] team and then got beat by our rival Notre Dame by 40. I think it’s time.’ I think it’s going to be that kind of game.”
After the Trojans’ loss to the Bruins on Saturday, Helton was asked about the rumors about his seat being one of the hottest in the country. Helton is aware of the reality of the situation — seasons like this will bring harsh criticism and hot seat rumors.
“It doesn’t bother me,” Helton said. “My main heartbreak is for our seniors because I wanted it for them. I know the job. The job is you win, people are going to pat you on the back. If you lose, they’re going to get after you. If you don’t like it, don’t be in this profession. I know it. It just rolls off my back. So I’m not worried about it.”
It will be very interesting to see what USC does if things get ugly on Saturday night. A 5-7 season that ends with an embarrassing loss won’t sit well with the fan base.