No. 1 USC Football Hosts Traditional Rival Notre Dame
Nov. 21, 2004
USC and Notre Dame meet for the 76th time in the greatest intersectional rivalry in college football. Both teams will be well-rested because they had byes last week. The top-ranked, defending national champion Trojans smashed Arizona 2 weeks ago to clinch their third consecutive Pac-10 title and earn a berth in the Rose Bowl. But Troy is continuing its quest for the BCS Championship Game in the Orange Bowl, needing wins in its traditional rivalry games this week against the Irish and then next week at intracity foe UCLA. It's only the second time in history that USC has played Notre Dame and UCLA back-to-back in that order (usually, it's the other way around). USC has won a school record-tying 20 consecutive home games in the Coliseum, which is sold out for a school-record third time this season. USC's home attendance total and average records should fall. The Trojans are also riding a 19-game winning streak (second longest in school history) and have won 30 of their last 31. USC head coach Pete Carroll is 12-0 in November. A win would give USC its best start since 1972. Notre Dame has never beaten a No. 1 USC team in 3 tries. However, unranked Irish squads are even up against ranked Trojan teams. The winner gets year-long possession of the Shillelagh. It's the anniversary of a pair of famous USC comeback victories over the Irish: the 40th of 1964 and 30th of 1974. The Trojan offense--cranking out 430-plus yards and 37 points a game--is led by QB Matt Leinart (22-1 as a starter), multipurpose TB Reggie Bush (both are Heisman Trophy candidates), bruising TB LenDale White, go-to TE Dominique Byrd and precocious WR Dwayne Jarrett. For the third game in a row, USC is ranked in the NCAA's Top 6 in every defensive statistical category, thanks to a quartet of All-American candidates: DTs Shaun Cody (a Lombardi finalist) and Mike Patterson and LBs Matt Grootegoed (a Butkus finalist) and Lofa Tatupu. All-American P Tom Malone leads the Pac-10 in punting average. Notre Dame, guided by former Stanford head coach Tyrone Willingham, already has beaten a pair of teams currently ranked in the AP Top 15. ND has an offense that features the dangerous tailback tandem of Darius Walker and Ryan Grant, efficient QB Brady Quinn and effective WR Rhema McKnight, a Southern California native. The Irish defense--behind ILB Mike Goolsby--has had great success stopping the run, holding opponents to less than 100 yards per game. It's 'Anthony Davis Day' (the Trojan tailback scored 11 touchdowns against Notre Dame in his 3-year career). The game will be shown live nationally in prime time on ABC-TV. ESPN's 'College Gameday' will make a return visit outside the Coliseum on Saturday morning. The night before, the Women of Troy host Notre Dame in women's basketball.