A Notre Dame victory over rival Southern California is a must if the Fighting Irish hope to keep their slim College Football Playoff hopes alive.

Yes, Notre Dame must run the table as no two-loss team has ever made football’s final four.

But that shouldn’t be a problem this week for the Irish (4-1) as they’ve been installed as an 11-point favorite over unranked USC (3-2).

Unfortunately for No. 9 ND, its schedule has turned into mush, as it only has one ranked team left on it – overhyped Michigan at No. 16.

Of this week’s Associated Press Top 10, the Irish have played just one team – a loss to No. 3 Georgia.

Granted the rest of the AP’s Top 10 remain undefeated, but there’s a long way to go, and many of those nine unbeatens will be colliding with each other in league play.

So it’s possible Notre Dame could work its way back into the playoffs, but it would appear the Irish need a lot of outside help.

Beating unranked USC would be a start.

Top area college game

Notre Dame 31, USC 17

Yes I know, as my ND buddies, most of whom graduated from Western Michigan, like to say about the upcoming game in South Bend: “I don’t care if USC is unranked. It’s still USC.”

Make that a Southern California team that lost its starting quarterback a few games ago.

Top high school game

St. Joseph 20, B.C. Lakeview 17

It’s a battle of unbeatens at Dickinson Stadium Friday evening. Both the Bears and Spartans are 6-0, and lead their respective SMAC divisions.

A comparison of scores against three common opponents (Niles, Mattawan and Lakeshore) has the Bears winning those three games by a total of 78 points, and the Spartans by 76.

It doesn’t get much closer than that, folks.

Idle thought

Got a kick out of Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh praising the improvement of his team’s offense since the Wisconsin debacle.

Whose game film were you watching Jim? Ohio State’s?

On with the forecast:

HIGH SCHOOL

Last week: 17-2, .895

Season: 97-21, .813

Friday

St. Joseph 20, BC Lakeview 17

Lakeshore 31, Gull Lake 8

Benton Harbor 41, Mattawan 28

Kal. Central 36, Niles 23

Brandywine 38, Gobles 13

LM Catholic 42, Lawrence 24

Berrien Springs 52, Buchanan 14

Bridgman 56, New Buffalo 16

Wyo. Tri-unity 49, MLutheran 18

Constantine 37, Watervliet 12

Allegan 23, South Haven 20

White Pigeon 45, Eau Claire 6

Schoolcraft 42, Coloma 14

Hartford 34, Marcellus 16

Dowagiac 42, Sturgis 19

Edwardsburg 45, Three Rivers 10

Paw Paw 33, Vicksburg 22

Centreville 28, Decatur 21

Cassopolis 63, Bloomingdale 6

COLLEGE

Last week: 32-8, .800

Season: 264-49, .843

Tonight

N.C. State 28, Syracuse 27

Friday

Miami, Fla. 27, Virginia 24

Colorado St. 31, New Mexico 28

Oregon 42, Colorado 21

Saturday

Notre Dame 31, USC 17

Michigan 31, Illinois 14

Wisconsin 31, Michigan St. 21

CMU 34, N. Mexico St. 24

EMU 27, Ball St. 23

WMU 42, Miami, O. 28

Maryland 34, Purdue 27

Minnesota 35, Nebraska 24

Indiana 42, Rutgers 10

Penn State 24, Iowa 17

Air Force 27, Fresno St. 24

Alabama 38, Teas A&M 24

Arizona State 31, Wash. St. 28

Army 28, W. Kentucky 23

Baylor 42, Texas Tech 31

Boise State 32, Hawaii 21

BYU 34, S. Florida 31

Cincinnati 28, Houston 24

Clemson 52, Florida St. 21

Duke 31, Geo. Tech 17

Fla. Atlantic 31, Mid-Tenn. St. 20

Georgia 52, S. Carolina 14

Iowa State 28, W. Virginia 23

Kentucky 33, Arkansas 28

LSU 34, Florida 24

Louisiana Tech 45, UMass 7

Marshall 33, Old Dominion 22

Miss. State 35, Tennessee 31

Missouri 34, Mississippi 21

Oklahoma 38, Texas 28

San Diego State 35, Wyoming 31

Southern Miss 28, N. Texas 24

Toledo 45, Bowling Green 13

Tulane 49, UConn 7

Tulsa 28, Navy 24

UAB 38, San Antonio 28

Utah 42, Oregon St. 31

Vanderbilt 42, UNLV 20

Va. Tech 49, Rhode Island 6

Wake Forest 34, Louisville 30

Washington 31, Arizona 27

Al Arend is a sports correspondent foe The Herald-Palladium. His weekly football predictions appear every Thursday.