USC and Norte Dame will clash in their annual rivalry game Saturday Night. This will be a key game for both the Trojans and No. 9 Irish. Both teams will also have a few players who could impact their team and the game. We share a few players that fans should keep their eye on during Saturday’s game.
USC Quarterback Kedon Slovis
Trojans true freshman Kedon Slovis is cleared and will make his third start. The task will be a tough one as he makes it on the road in South Bend against the No. 9 Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Slovis will play in his first game since suffering a concussion against Utah three weeks ago. Good thing for the true freshman is that he has had two weeks to get healthy and prepare for the Irish. During his last road start against BYU Slovis threw for 281 and two touchdowns, however the difference maker was the three interceptions, skipping his reads, and forcing passes into double and triple coverage in the Trojans loss. The Trojans passing game will be dependent on what the true freshman does on the road against a very good Notre Dame pass defense. If he struggles then it will be a long night for USC.
Notre Dame Quarterback Ian Book
Staying on the subject of quarterbacks, The Fighting Irish senior Ian Book has been outstanding so far this season. Book has thrown for over 1,000 yards and has 13 touchdowns and just 2 interceptions. He also had some success against USC as well. The senior threw for 352, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception in last year’s game against the Trojans. If Book is given time then he’ll pick the Trojans secondary apart, however his two worst games came against Louisville and Virginia where he failed to throw for 200 yards and was sacked 3 to 4 times. Book’s ability to extend plays with his legs also makes him a threat. The senior has used his ability to get out the pocket and find his targets down the field.
Notre Dame Running Back Tony Jones Jr.
Notre Dame’s balanced offense has given teams fits through the season. A huge part of that is their ability to run the ball. Irish running back Tony Jones Jr. is currently the teams leading rusher with 381 yards on the ground off 55 carries. He’s also averaging 6.9 yards per carry and has four touchdowns on the year. As Notre Dame’s feature back, the Junior has helped make the Irish offense very effective. Jones Jr. is coming off back to back 100 yard games. He has a tough task ahead of him as he faces a USC defensive line that have not allowed opposing teams to get their interior run game going.
USC Safety Talanoa Hufanga
The Trojans MVP on defense. Hufanga has not only been a difference maker in the USC secondary, but for the defense as a whole. The sophomore safety covers up the mistakes made by a young defense and continuously will make plays all over the field. He’ll likely line up to cover Notre Dame tight end Cole Kmet in certain situations as well as play in the box for run stopping sitations. Hufanga was forced to miss USC’s loss to Washington after being placed in concussion protocol that whole week. Missing him showed as Washington’s tight ends were open on certain plays and gained huge yardage. Look for Hufanga to give the Trojans defense a must needed boost Saturday night.