USC Football Goes To Notre Dame For Traditional Intersectional Clash
Oct. 11, 2009
No. 6/5 USC travels to No. 25 Notre Dame for the 81st rendition of the greatest intersectional rivalry in college football. USC has won its last 7 games against the Fighting Irish, including the last 3 times in South Bend (and 4 of the past 6 there). USC also has won its last 14 non-conference games and its past 10 non-conference road contests, as well as its last 9 games against AP Top 25 teams. The game is a battle between schools with perhaps the country's most glorious gridiron heritages. The winner gets year-long possession of the Shillelagh. It's a rare second trip to the Midwest this season for the Trojans (USC won at Ohio State last month). USC owns a streak of 7 consecutive Pac-10 titles, AP Top 4 finishes, BCS bowl trips and 11-win seasons. This is the 97th consecutive game the Trojans have been ranked in the AP Top 25, extending their school record. This is the second game of a 5-game span for USC during which the Trojans are on the road 4 times (meanwhile, Notre Dame is playing the second game of its 5-game homestand). Both teams are coming off byes. The previous week, USC won big at California, while Notre Dame went into overtime at home to beat Washington (a team that defeated the Trojans earlier this year). The game will pit the nation's passing efficiency leader, Irish QB Jimmy Clausen, against a Trojan defense that is ranked in the national Top 8 in every stat category. USC has yet to allow a passing touchdown in 2009 (and Troy has surrendered just 3 rushing TDs all season). Featured USC defenders include 2-time All-American S Taylor Mays, LB Chris Galippo, DE Everson Griffen, DT Jurrell Casey, S-CB Josh Pinkard and LB Michael Morgan. Offensively, USC leads the Pac-10 in total offense behind the play of true freshman QB Matt Barkley, TB Joe McKnight and WR Damian Williams, plus a veteran offensive line led by OG-C Jeff Byers and C Kristofer O'Dowd. The bye week allowed several key Trojans--WR Ronald Johnson and DE Armond Armstead--to return to the practice field after missing the season's first 5 games with injuries. USC's Pete Carroll, who is college football's winningest active coach (85.2%), has 34 wins over AP Top 25 teams (including the past 9 tries). Notre Dame, under fifth-year head coach Charlie Weis, is on a 3-game winning streak (its last 4 games have been decided by a touchdown or less). With Clausen at the controls, the Irish rank 10th nationally in total offense, as well as first in passing efficiency and eighth in passing offense. Now that dangerous WR Michael Floyd is out with an injury, ND's top pass catchers are WR Golden Tate, who is fourth nationally in receiving yards (he had 244 yards versus Washington), and TE Kyle Rudolph. The Irish running game features HB Armando Allen and FB Robert Hughes, who run behind linemen such as 4-year starting OT Sam Young and C Eric Olsen. The Irish have done well so far despite a defense that has allowed significant yards (403.2) and points (23.8). S Kyle McCarthy is nationally ranked in tackles and interceptions. Joining him are the likes of S Harrison Smith and LBs Brian Smith and Darius Fleming. ND has an accurate kicker in true freshman PK Nick Tausch. The game, in sold-out Notre Dame Stadium (the 209th consecutive sellout), will be televised live nationally by NBC-TV.