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USC Vs. Notre Dame Preview: A Rarity In The Rivalry

Jodee Sullivan |
November 26, 2014 | 3:25 p.m. PST

Staff Reporter

USC and Notre Dame share a rivalry that is relatively unmatched. College football’s greatest intersectional rivalry began on December 4, 1926 at the Coliseum with the Irish coming out on top 13-12. 

From their first meeting, it was evident that these two programs would be closely matched, competitive, and widely watched each time they played.  

Notre Dame currently leads the rivalry 45-34-5 and has lead for its entirety.

This great intersectional rivalry boasts two programs that each have 11 National Championships and seven Heisman trophies. Combined, the programs have produced the most successful rivalry in college football: most All-Americans, College Football Hall of Famers, NFL Hall of Famers and NFL draft picks. Also, the rivalry has accounted for five of the top-ten most-watched college football games ever. (The most recent was in 2012; it was the most-watched regular-season college football game on ABC since 2006 and the most-viewed ABC Saturday night game ever with more than 16 million viewers.)

It’s a series that has produced some of the most memorable games in college football history. For Trojan fans, it wasn’t too long ago when USC dominated Notre Dame nine out of ten games with eight consecutive wins between 2002-2011. The most prominent of that stretch was “The Bush Push” in 2005; who could possibly forget when Reggie Bush pushed Matt Leinart into the end zone with seven seconds left for the 34-31 win in South Bend? Hopefully Leinart can motivate his fellow Trojans as he leads them out of the tunnel for Saturday’s game.

In a rivalry with so much history and tradition, it seems almost unlikely that there would be a year where the game and everything leading up to it is mediocre, but this year is one of those years. 

In the preseason, both teams were ranked in the top 25, USC at 15 and Notre Dame at 17, but now both teams find themselves unranked and 7-4 heading into their final regular season game.

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The Irish were looking forward to the return of senior quarterback Everett Golson, who in his sophomore season led his team to 10 straight wins to begin his career as a starter. All eyes were on Golson to see if he could repeat his dominance once again.

For the Trojans, everything leading up to the first kickoff of the regular season seemed to foreshadow a season of success. The USC offense of Cody Kessler, Nelson Agholor and Buck Allen along with true freshman JuJu Smith under the direction of Steve Sarkisian gave Trojan fans more than enough to be hopeful and excited for the season to begin.   

However, as the regular season now draws to a close, the two teams entwined in this historic rivalry are facing off in a midday game in Los Angeles playing for pride more than anything.

On the topic of pride, both teams are really looking for nothing more than a win; the Irish look to snap their 3-game skid, while the Trojans look to come back from their embarrassing loss to UCLA.

It would be an understatement to say that both teams have been underwhelming in the back half of the season.  

Not all hope is lost for USC though; a win over the Irish could quiet some of the criticism surrounding Sarkisian and the team’s play this season. 

After the UCLA game, players and coaches alike said that the team didn’t “execute"; well, the Trojans do need to “execute” to beat the Irish and, more than anything, they need to play with heart.

To end their season on a high note with a win over Notre Dame, USC must come out and play their game under the Los Angeles sun. They have to play for a full four quarters, something that they have struggled with all season. 

As of right now, the sole focus of the Trojans must be on how they can rally together and prove that they have heart. With heart and determination, the Trojans should be able to keep out the issues they’ve been having all season and fight their way to a win over the Fighting Irish.

Reach Staff Reporter Jodee Sullivan here and on Twitter here.



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