It's USC v. Notre Dame, the 84th game in the greatest cross-sectional rivalry in college football. Here are the basic details:
Starting Time: Kickoff is officially scheduled for 5:00 p.m. PST. The actual kickoff time for the last 5 p.m. start between these teams was 5:12 p.m.
Broadcast: ABC-TV is in the house. ESPN College Game Day is also in town.
Records: USC is 7-4 (the same record USC had last time the Irish came around). USC's 5-4 conference record is 2nd-best in the Pac-12 South. Notre Dame is 11-0, best in the nation - only Ohio St. has an equal record.
Rankings: USC is unranked in any poll, but is not far back in the list of others receiving votes. Notre Dame is a consensus #1. This is the 8th time the Irish bring a #1 ranking into the game. (USC is 2-5 in the first seven, winning in 1938 and 1964). USC is 6-14 against undefeated Irish teams.
Odds: There was no line on this game initially, due to Matt Barkley's injury status, but USC has emerged as a 5½ point underdog. This is, by the way, the lowest point spread a #1 team has ever had against an unranked opponent.
Streaks: USC has won nine of the last ten against the Irish, but the teams have split the last two games. The road team has won three straight. The last Notre Dame win came in 2010.
Weather: It will be fairly warm, coming off a high of 77°, it should be clear and 69° at kickoff, dropping to about 62° near the end of the game. Partially cloudy or foggy conditions are not expected until after the game is over.
Webcams: USC has Tommy Trojan on a webcam. Notre Dame has the golden dome on a webcam, too. Actually, Notre Dame is full of webcams, including the Clark Memorial Fountain, South Quad, North Quad and DeBartolo Quad.
History: The series began in 1926, when Knute Rockne took his team to the West Coast, reportedly because his wife wanted a warm-weather holiday. Though they had just one national title between them then, USC and Notre Dame were becoming national football powerhouses, and in the first seven seasons of the rivalry, the winner of the game ended up as national champions five times! At first, the games alternated between Chicago's Soldier Field and Los Angeles's Memorial Coliseum. Since 1931, Notre Dame has hosted the games in odd-numbered years at Notre Dame Stadium. Last year, USC won at Notre Dame 34-27. In the last game in L.A., USC won 38-3. The largest margin of victory in the rivalry was 51 points, by Notre Dame in a 1966 shutout. USC's largest margin of victory is 38, in 2007 at South Bend. USC and Notre Dame are two of just four FBS teams never to have played a lower division opponent since the current divisional alignments were established. (UCLA and Washington are the others.)
The Prize: The winner of the game keeps the Shillelagh, a club made of Irish wood, for a year. This Shillelagh adds an emerald-studded shamrock for each Notre Dame win, and a ruby-studded Trojan head for each USC win, right next to the engraved score of each game. The original Shillelagh was filled up after the 1989 game and is on display at Notre Dame. This year's game is a battle for the current, second, Shillelagh, which is on display at USC's Heritage Hall.
Head-to-Head Record: No team has beaten USC more times than Notre Dame. No team has beaten Notre Dame more times than USC. Notre Dame leads the all-time series 43-35-5. The series is streaky. USC has won the last 9 of the last 10 games. The Irish won the 3 before that. USC won the 3 before that. Notre Dame won 12 of the 13 before that. Since the 1960s, the series has been almost even. At the Coliseum, USC leads 21-18-4, and in my lifetime, USC leads 24-18-3.
National Titles: USC has won 11 national championships in football: 1928-31-32-39-62-67-72-74-78-2003-2004. Several, including the 2003 title, were split titles. In five other seasons -- 1929, 1933, 1976, 1979 and 2002 -- the Trojans were chosen as the number one team by at least selector, but not one with sufficient prestige to call themselves national champions. Notre Dame also claims 11 national titles, but all 11 were consensus titles.
Heisman Trophies: USC was tied with Notre Dame and Ohio State with seven, but with Reggie Bush forfeiting his, the Trojans are back to six and counting. Aside from Bush, USC's last winner was Matt Leinart in 2004. The Irish last won with Tim Brown in 1987.
Injuries: As was the case in 2010, USC is expected to start a backup QB due to the injury to Matt Barkley.
Bowls: Notre Dame is playing for a BCS championship game slot. The Trojans are probably headed to the Sun Bowl, but could be selected by the Alamo Bowl or Holiday Bowl with a big win over the #1 Irish, depending upon what Stanford, Oregon State and UCLA do this weekend. Bowls with Pac-12 affiliations can take 5-4 USC ahead of any Pac-12 team with a 6-3 record or worse.
Tickets: This game is sold out.
Seniors: This will be the final home game for most of USC's 20 seniors. Three of them could be back next year, due to injuries extending their eligibility or potential eligibility. Seven of them are regular starters. Several juniors, most notably, WR Robert Woods and CB Nickell Robey, might leave for the NFL, making this their final home game as well.
No. Name Pos. Hgt. Wgt. Cl.(Ath/Ac) Exp. Hometown(HighSchool/JC/College)
7 Barkley, Matt QB 6-2 230 SR 3V Newport Beach, CA (Mater Dei HS)
7 McDonald, T.J. S 6-3 205 SR 3V Fresno, CA (Edison HS)
17 Saee, Emon QB 6-1 200 RS SR SQ Calabasas (Calabasas)
18 Manoogian, John QB 6-0 220 RS SR SQ Los Angeles (Windward)
19 McAllister, Drew S 6-1 205 RS SR 4V Danville, CA (Monte Vista HS)
22 McNeal, Curtis TB 5-7 190 RS SR 2V Los Angeles, CA (Venice HS)
24 Matranga, Eric WR 5-10 180 SR TR Carmichael (Glendale JC)
29 Starling, Jawanza S 6-1 200 SR 3V Tallahassee, FL (Lincoln HS)
30 Baucham, Brian CB 5-11 170 RS SR 2V Torrance, CA (West Torrance HS)
34 Burnett, Tony LB 6-1 205 RS SR 2V Watts (Los Angeles SW JC)
35 Negrete, Kyle P 6-0 225 RS SR 1V Fresno, CA (San Diego)
40 Mojica, Robert TB 5-9 180 SR TR Dana Point (SMU)
42 Kennard, Devon DE 6-3 260 SR 2V Phoenix, AZ (Desert Vista HS)
44 Larsen, Chandler FB-TE 6-0 225 RS SR -- Oak Park, Calif. (Oak Park HS)
45 Scott, Doug LB 6-2 200 RS SR SQ San Diego, Calif. (Cathedral Catholic/WMU/El Camino JC)
50 Markowitz, Abe C 6-1 305 RS SR SQ Hawaii Kai, HI (Punahou HS)
52 Kelley, Dallas LB 5-11 225 SR SQ Norco, CA (Chaffey JC)
74 Galten, Jeremy OT-OG 6-5 290 SR 1V San Mateo, CA (San Mateo JC)
78 Holmes, Khaled C 6-4 305 RS SR 3V Santa Ana, CA (Mater Dei HS)
92 Kusnir, Zack DT 6-5 265 SR SQ La Jolla, Ca. (San Diego State)
96 Horton, Wes DE 6-5 255 RS SR 3V Chatsworth, CA (Notre Dame HS)
Game Promotions: USC’s football seniors will be saluted prior to the game while running through the Heritage Tunnel, comprised of former Trojans. USC head coach Lane Kiffin is hosting the Kiff’s Kids toy drive to benefit children from the local community (fans are encouraged to bring a toy or unwrapped gift to collection boxes set up around the Coliseum)…Steve Johnson, the 2013 NCAA men’s tennis single champion who played on 4 consecutive NCAA championship USC teams, will be saluted on the field…USC professor Jae Jung will be recognized for receiving the 2012 HO-Am Prize in Medicine, Korea’s equivalent of the Noble prize.
Coaches: USC's Lane Kiffin and Notre Dame's Brian Kelly meet for the third time, splitting their first two games.
Catholics v. Protestants: Notre Dame was founded as a Roman Catholic university. USC was founded as a Methodist university. When Notre Dame first came to Southern California, the Trojans were a Methodist campus. In fact, the Trojans were once known as the USC Wesleyans or the USC Methodists. Despite a reference on wikipedia, rumors that USC athletes were once referred to as the "Fighting Methodists" are unsubstantiated. Personally, I think God has more important things to care about than who wins a football game, but to my fellow Catholics who seem to think that it is unholy for a Catholic to root against Notre Dame, let me remind you that Notre Dame's famous Touchdown Jesus should properly be referred to by His full name:
Memorable Anniversaries - Here are some games folks will be remembering this year.
- 15 years (1997 - USC 20 Notre Dame 17): USC won in South Bend for the first time in more than a decade, after Notre Dame missed three field goals. The Trojans, who entered the game with a 3-3 record, needed a Mark Cusano interception in the fourth quarter to ice the win. Cusano, who had batted down a 4th down pass in overtime the prior season to end a 13 year winless streak against the Irish, forever sealed his reputation among Trojan fans as an Irish-killer.
- 20 years (1982 - USC 17 Notre Dame 13): USC won on a controversial call, as Trojan running back Michael Harper scored the winning touchdown on a play in which he appeared to fumble the ball before breaking the plane of the goal line. The resulting bad karma brought 13 years of bad luck to the Trojans, who lost the next 11 games against the Irish, and managed only a tie in the two games afte that. USC finished 8-3, were ineligible to appear in a bowl game due to an NCAA probation. After the season, USC coach John Robinson left for the NFL.
- 35 years (1977 - Notre Dame 49 USC 19): The Green Jersey Game. Before the game, "Dump Devine" stickers were being sold outside Notre Dame Stadium. During pregame warmups, the Irish players wore traditional navy blue jerseys, then retired to the locker room where they found Devine had left green jerseys in their lockers. They changed and returned to the field with the team captains inside a Trojan Horse dragged by the Notre Dame cheerleaders. The crowd energy never waned as the Irish won big and continued to wear the green jerseys until their win over Texas in the Cotton Bowl that sealed Devine's first and only national championship.
- 40 years (1972 - USC 45 Notre Dame 23): USC was 10-0 and ranked #1. The Irish were 8-1 headed to the Orange Bowl. Trojan tailback Anthony Davis scored six touchdowns, including two kickoff returns. It was the most points USC had ever scored against Notre Dame, setting a team record that would last just two seasons.
- 45 years (1967 - USC 24 Notre Dame 7): Coming off a 51-0 loss the year before, No. 1 ranked USC came in as a big underdog to fifth-ranked Notre Dame, the defending national champions. Trailing 7-0 at halftime, the Trojans came back in the second half thanks to O.J. Simpson's three touchdowns on 160 yards rushing. It was USC's first win in South Bend since 1939. The Trojans went on to win the 1967 national championship.
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