The jeweled Shillelagh is one of the most unique trophies in college football and historically one of the most heralded matchups in college football history.
USC is in the midst of a tough season but are undefeated on the road in 2021. The Trojans (3-3) have alternated wins and losses this year and lost their last game against Utah, so they could be due for a win. Despite injuries at quarterback, USC junior wide receiver Drake London has emerged as one of the best pass catchers in America. London leads the Pac-12 and is second in the country in both catches and receiving yards. On defense, the Trojans feature one of the nation’s most dominant pass rushers in junior Drake Jackson, who has filled the stat sheet this season with 18 tackles, four tackles for loss, three sacks, one forced fumble, one fumble recovered, and an interception.
Notre Dame is 5-1 this season and ranked No. 13 in both the AP and Coaches Polls. The Irish have been particularly good against teams outside the top-25, with 36 straight wins against unranked teams dating back to 2016, the longest current streak in the country. Notre Dame has played three different quarterbacks this fall, but sophomore tight end Michael Mayer has excelled with anyone under center, leading the team in catches and yards. The Irish defense has excelled at forcing turnovers in 2021, with 10 interceptions and 14 takeaways overall. Seven different Notre Dame players have recorded an interception this season.
The Irish have won three in a row in this series and four straight in South Bend. If USC wants to buck that trend, the Trojans will have to get consistent pressure on whoever is playing quarterback for the Irish. For Notre Dame, the key will be continuing to force turnovers.