USC Visits No. 13 Notre Dame In Resumption Of College Football's Greatest Intersectional Rivalry
*USC takes a break from Pac-12 play and starts the second half of its regular season when it goes to No. 13 Notre Dame for the 92nd edition of the greatest intersectional rivalry in college football.
*The game is a battle between schools with glorious gridiron heritages. The winner gets year-long possession of the jeweled Shillelagh.
*Will form hold true for the Trojans, who are undefeated on the road this season (but struggle mightily at home) and who have gone W-L-W-L-W-L so far in 2021?
*The Trojans have lost only 7 of the past 18 contests with the Irish, but the losses all have been since 2010 (including in the past 3 meetings). Troy has dropped its last 4 games in South Bend.
*Historically, USC has held the upper hand against Notre Dame whenever either team is coming off a bye, and particularly in the rare instances (like this year) when both teams enter the game following an off week.
*This will be the seventh time since 1961 that USC goes to South Bend with 3 or more losses, but the Trojans have won several of those games.
*This is just the sixth Trojan night game at Notre Dame Stadium (2011 was the first) and also ties for the latest USC-ND kickoff time ever.
*USC and Notre Dame did not play each other last season (due to COVID-19 scheduling limitations), marking the first time since World War II that the rivals didn't meet.
*The Trojans, with interim head coach Donte Williams at the helm, are looking to bounce back from their first-ever Coliseum loss to Utah before the bye. USC features one of the nation's best players in All-American nominee WR Drake London, the leading candidate for the Biletnikoff Award. London's astounding 64 receptions (many of the eye-popping variety) and 832 receiving yards are both second most in the nation. The Trojan offense is directed by QB Kedon Slovis, a 68% career passer (above the USC record) who is in the school's all-time Top 8 in completions and total offense. He is coming off a 400-yard passing outing (his USC record fifth). TB Keaontay Ingram has emerged as the top ball carrier (he averages nearly 6 yards per carry) and he gets spelled productively by TBs Darwin Barlow and Vavae Malepeai (he has more than 1,700 career rushing yards). The USC defense features top tacklers in ILB Kana'i Mauga and S Chase Williams, sack meister OLB Drake Jackson (10.5 career sacks) and emerging QB-chasing freshman DL Korey Foreman, along with solid play from DLs Jacob Lichtenstein and Tuli Tuipulotu and S Isaiah Pola-Mao. Aussie P Ben Griffiths, in the national Top 20 in punting, had a 71-yard boot last game (the longest by a Trojan since 2002). PK Parker Lewis has missed just one field goal this season and most of his kickoffs have been touchbacks.
*Notre Dame rebounded from its first loss of 2021 (to Cincinnati at home) with a last-minute victory at Virginia Tech before its bye. The Irish have won their past 36 games against unranked opponents. Head coach Brian Kelly, in his 12th season at Notre Dame, recently became the winningest coach in school history. QB Jack Coan directs the Irish offense, with RB Kyren Williams topping a ground attack that averages less than 100 yards per outing and TE Michael Mayer (in the national Top 25 in receptions) the leading pass catcher. RB Chris Tyree has scored a TD this year rushing, receiving and returning kickoffs. ND's defense is in the national Top 25 in interceptions, pass efficiency defense and turnover margin. Top tacklers include LB JD Bertrand, S Kyle Hamilton and DL Isaiah Foskey, who are Top 20 ranked nationally in tackles, interceptions and sacks, respectively. PK Jonathan Doerer's late 48-yard field goal beat Virginia Tech.
*USC is not ranked in the current AP sports media and USA Today coaches polls. Notre Dame is 13th by both AP and USA Today
*Notre Dame leads the series with USC, which began in 1926, 49-36-5 (not including Troy's 2005 victory that was later vacated due to NCAA penalty; original record: 49-37-5). Including that 2005 vacated game, USC has won 11 of the last 18 meetings and 14 of the last 24 (including 8 in a row from 2002 to 2009), but ND has won 7 of the last 10. Since 1967, USC has gone 25-24-3 (not including the 2005 vacated game; original record: 26-24-3).
*In South Bend, USC is 13-27-1 (not including the 2005 vacated game; original record: 14-27-1), with 2 other USC losses in Chicago. USC has lost in its last 4 trips to South Bend (its longest streak since dropping 7 consecutive there from 1983 to 1995), but Troy had won the previous 5 times there and 6 of the previous 8.
*For the first time since the World War II years of 1942 to 1945, USC and Notre Dame did not play each other last season. That 2020 game would have been played in Los Angeles, but Pac-12 teams played an abbreviated schedule featuring only conference opponents due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
*In 2019 in the teams' most recent meeting, USC — despite a 24-point second half — came up just short in its comeback attempt at No. 9 Notre Dame, falling 30-27. See page 4 for a complete recap of that most recent matchup.
*USC is 98-47-4 in all regular season games it has played following byes. Since 1955, the Trojans are 59- 18-1 following byes (6 of those losses and the tie were to UCLA). (Not including 2 wins vacated due to NCAA penalty; original records: 99-46-4 overall, 60-17-1 since 1955.)
USC VS. ND FOLLOWING BYES
*This will be just the seventh time in series history that both USC and Notre Dame enter this game coming off byes. USC has gone 5-1 in those meetings (wins in 1932-72-80-2004-09, loss in 1947). When USC had a bye prior to the game, Troy has gone 7-5-1 against the Irish (wins in 1932-39-72-80-2004-08-09, losses in 1937-41-42-47-2019, tie in 1948). When Notre Dame had a bye prior to the game, the Trojans have gone 10-7- 2 (wins in 1928-32-38-50-72-80-81-2004-09-11, losses in 1934-40-47-65-92-2013-17, ties in 1936-68; does not include USC's win in 2005 that was vacated due to NCAA penalty, original USC record: 11-7-2).
3-PLUS LOSS USC IN SOUTH BEND
*Since 1961, when USC's game at Notre Dame began being held in October instead of November or December as it was earlier in the series, this will be the seventh time that the Trojans have come to South Bend with 3 or more losses. USC is 2-4 in those games, with wins in 1971 and 1997 and losses in 1983-91-93- 2001. The 1971 win--50 years ago--was played on Oct. 23 in South Bend, same as this 2021 game.
*USC has a 312-123-19 (.708) all-time record while playing in the month of October (not including 5 wins vacated due to NCAA penalty; revised record: 317-123-19, .711).
*USC is 182-71-4 (.716) at night, including 107-634-4 in the Coliseum, 60-29 on the road and 15-8 at neutral sites. (Does not include 5 wins and 1 loss vacated due to NCAA penalty; original record: 187-72-4, .719 overall, 110-34-4 in the Coliseum, 17-9 at neutral sites, USC had a school-record 32-game win streak at home at night from 1997 to 2010.)
USC-ND AT NIGHT
*This year's USC-Notre Dame game is just the sixth Trojan night game ever at Notre Dame Stadium (2011 was the first and it also happened in 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2019). It also ties with those games as the latest USC-ND game ever (7:30 p.m. kickoff), as all 12 such night encounters in Los Angeles were 5 p.m. starts.
*USC is 47-30-1 in its last 78 games on artificial turf (not including 3 wins vacated due to NCAA penalty; original record: 50-30-1).
USC-NOTRE DAME CONNECTIONS
*USC has no players from Indiana, while Notre Dame has 13 Californians on its roster.
*USC director of football sports performance Robert Stiner was an assistant director of football strength and conditioning at Notre Dame for the past 3 seasons (2018-20).
*USC assistant director of football sports performance Ian Bures was an assistant strength and conditioning coach at Notre Dame the past 3 seasons (2018-20).
*USC assistant football sports performance coach Zaviar Gooden was a strength and conditioning intern at Notre Dame in the spring of 2018.
*USC OL Caadyn Stephen celebrates his 20th birthday on Saturday (Oct. 23).
*USC WR Jake Smith attended Notre Dame...Notre Dame Prep in Scottsdale (Ariz.), that is!
*Notre Dame wide receivers coach DelVaughn Alexander lettered as a wide receiver at USC in 1993 and 1994, then was a USC graduate assistant coach in 1996 and 1997.
*The athletic departments and business schools at USC and Notre Dame, along with those at North Carolina, Georgia, Michigan and Texas, conduct the Sports Management Institute for mid- and upper-level sports administrators who aspire to be athletic directors, executive directors or general managers in college, amateur or pro sports.
*The winner of the USC-Notre Dame game gets year-long possession of the jeweled Shillelagh. The foot-long shillelagh—a Gaelic war club made of oak or blackthorn saplings from Ireland—has ruby-adorned Trojan heads with the year and game score representing USC victories, while emerald-studded shamrocks stand for Notre Dame wins. For tie games, a combined Trojan head/shamrock medallion was used. The first Shillelagh was retired after the 1989 game when it ran out of space for the medallions and a second one is now in use. There are now 49 shamrocks, 37 Trojan heads and 5 combined medallions on the shillelaghs (1 USC win was later vacated due to NCAA penalty).