Who ever walks away with the win after Saturday’s showdown in South Bend between Notre Dame and USC, will have the chance to revive their season while the loser will likely fall of the map in college football.
The deep history between the schools brings more excitement to the game and will surely generate a high energy atmosphere around Notre Dame campus on game day. Expect the rivalry to be in full form with both coaches and players ready to do whatever it takes to capture this key victory.
ESPN reported that even Brian Kelly shared his anticipation for the matchup saying, “This is our game that we look forward to against USC. It's one that it's on our calendar as I don't want to say a red-letter game, but one that we look forward to. It's such a great matchup, great tradition, great history. It's part of the history of Notre Dame football that they really recognize as that one singular game.”
USC recently fired their head coach Lane Kiffin after a disappointing loss to Arizona State, but interim coach Ed Oregon is no stranger to the history, as he explained, “When we first got here, the great USC coach, Marv Goux, sat down with me and Coach Carroll and told us about the importance of this game to the university, the fans, and of those great traditions that we still carry on.”
Unfortunately for the Irish, the coaching change may have revitalized the Trojans. USC has elite talent on board and can compete with any team when playing well. Notre Dame’s defense has to play smart and not let USC’s speed lead to lengthy gains. USC’s star wide receiver Marqise Lee might return from a knee injury and would provide a tough matchup for the Notre Dame secondary. The Irish defensive line will have to continue the physical play and get some pressure on quarterback Cody Kessler.
Notre Dame’s offense has to keep striving to find a balance and not become reliant on Tommy Rees to win the game. Rees has had highs and lows this season, but is coming off a solid performance in the win over Arizona State. His quantity of in-game experience will be valuable to the Irish offense against USC. Notre Dame’s running game is finally seeing some productivity as they rushed for 365-yards between the last two games. Another strong rushing attack will give the Irish more control over the game.
Notre Dame can’t let themselves get caught up in the buzz around the game. A strong start will be crucial for a win. Coming out flat has hurt the Irish this year and giving USC an early lead would be too difficult to overcome. Any turnovers will have a huge impact on what should be a close game. Simple mental mistakes could turn out to be difference makers. The winner is going to be decided by who can execute their game plan more efficiently. Notre Dame has to stay focused while keeping up the intensity. The Fighting Irish should win this game but it will take a complete team effort.