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Keys to the Game: USC vs. Notre Dame

 USC hopes to bounce back after two tough losses to teams with losing records. Their chances to win do not get any easier however as they prepare to take on No. 3 Notre Dame.

NCAA Football: Southern California at Notre Dame Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The USC Trojans have not been having one of their best seasons. In fact, if the Trojans lose to the No. 3 Notre Dame Irish this week, they will have their most losses in a season since the year 2000. The Trojans hope to salvage a win in any way they can against the Irish, in order to make their seventh consecutive bowl appearance. It will not be easy, but nothing is impossible.

Protect the Ball

The Trojans this season have not the best of jobs of preventing turnovers. So far this season, the Trojans have turned the ball over 18 times, including quarterback JT Daniels’s ten interceptions. These turnovers have come at the worst times as well. For example, Daniels’s poor interception last week was ultimately what gave the UCLA Bruins the win. So, if the Trojans have any chance of beating the Irish, they will have to do everything in their power to not turn the bowl over.

Stop the Rush

NCAA Football: Southern California at UCLA Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, the Trojans gave up 313 yards on the ground, with 289 of these yards to star running back Joshua Kelley. The Bruins kept feeding Kelley the ball which was too much for the Trojans defense to handle. Unfortunately for the Trojans, the Bruins kept finding holes in the Trojans defense. This is something the Trojans cannot dare do when taking an Irish running attack with running back Dexter Williams who has 844 yards rushing on the season.

Call the Right Play

A lot of the talk so far this season has been targeted at Clay Helton and his poor/questionable play calling. Many fans are blaming Helton for the recent losses. Last week was another example of why Helton has been under fire as his team blew a six-point lead in the fourth quarter. Helton and the Trojans cannot have these mistakes when taking on an Irish team which has not lost this season. The Trojans can just hope that they can take advantage of mistakes by the Irish.

Capitalize and Finish

NCAA Football: Southern California at UCLA Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

This is pretty self-explanatory, but something that the Trojans have failed to do in the last two games. In their game against Cal, the Trojans fell behind one point with around 20 more minutes left to play in the game. However, the Trojans failed to even score a field goal, and then fumbled on their last drive to seal the game for Cal. While this last week against the Bruins, the Trojans had three opportunities to score a touchdown to tie the game, only to turn the ball over on downs on their final drive. The Trojans cannot risk to play sloppy at the end of the game. If the Trojans fall behind against the Irish, they will have to do a better job of capitalizing and finishing the game.