USC Football Goes To Notre Dame For Top 10 Showdown

Oct. 9, 2005

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USC and Notre Dame meet for the 77th time in the greatest intersectional rivalry in college football. This is the 30th time that both teams enter the game ranked by AP and the 17th when both are in the Top 10. The top-ranked, 2-time defending national champion Trojans own a number of impressive winning streaks: in overall games (a Pac-10 record 27), non-conference contests (14), road outings (school-record-tying 12) and games against AP Top 25 teams (13). Notre Dame has never beaten a No. 1 USC team in 4 tries. Over the years, USC has proven tough to beat when ranked No. 1, while the Irish has struggled against top-ranked teams. USC--which has beaten ND the last 3 years--only has been victorious twice in its last 11 visits to South Bend, but won by 31 in its last trip there in 2003. The winner gets year-long possession of the Shillelagh. USC is on the road for the third time in its last 4 games (and fourth in its first 6 games), and the Trojans remain on the road next week at Washington. USC posted a 21-point home win over Arizona last weekend in which it rolled up 724 yards, but the Wildcats were within a touchdown early in the fourth quarter. Trojan head coach Pete Carroll is fielding an offense that is currently in the national top 6 of every statistical category, including first in total offense at 640 yards (which is above the NCAA record) and rushing at nearly 300 yards and second in scoring at 51 points. Headlining this potent group are 5 players who are on pace to form the NCAA's first unit ever with a 3,000-yard passer, a pair of 1,000-yard runners and a pair of 1,000-yard receivers. Heisman Trophy QB Matt Leinart needs 2 TD passes to tie the Pac-10 career mark, 'Thunder and Lightning' TBs LenDale White and Reggie Bush have had 100-yard rushing outings in each of the past 3 contests (a first in school history) and WRs Dwayne Jarrett and Steve Smith are among the NCAA stat leaders. A veteran offensive line sets it all up for them. And USC's defense--led by S Darnell Bing, LB Oscar Lua and DEs Lawrence Jackson and Frostee Rucker--is resilient and has become particularly tough against the run. No. 9 ND had an extra week to prepare for USC, as it is coming off a bye following its impressive win at Purdue. New Irish head coach Charlie Weis gets his introduction to the USC-Notre Dame series (Troy has had mixed success against new ND coaches). The Irish offense is among the best in the country statistically, featuring the likes of QB Brady Quinn, HB Darius Walker, WRs Jeff Samardzija and Maurice Stovall and TE Anthony Fasano. LB Brandon Hoyte leads the solid ND defense. The game, in sold-out Notre Dame Stadium (which is celebrating the 75th anniversary of its opening), will be shown live nationally on NBC-TV. For the second USC game this season, ESPN's GameDay pre-game show will be on site.

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