Friday, October 20, 2017

Trojans and Fighting Irish meet under the lights in a battle of one-loss teams

                                        Photo Credit- Jayne Kamin- Oncea/Getty Images

By: Jon Opiela
Twitter: @jonopiela24

It’s the game players circle in red on their calendar months in advance.  

The University of Southern California Trojans and the Norte Dame Fighting Irish have been one of the top rivalries throughout all of college football since their first meeting in 1900. No. 11 USC (6-1, 4-1 Pac-12) heads to South Bend on Saturday night (7:30 p.m. ET, NBC) looking to take down No. 13 Notre Dame (5-1).

The irresistible force and the immovable object collide as no other team has ever defeated USC more than Notre Dame- and no other school has defeated Notre Dame more than USC.

A loss could potentially knock USC or Notre Dame from contention in the College Football playoff.  Notre Dame fell in week two to No. 15 Georgia by a score of 20-19, while USC went down to No. 16 Washington State, 30-27 in a Pac-12 matchup.

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly knows the history behind the rivalry, but is not letting it control the game plan for the week.

“Certainly our players are aware of the game, the rivalry. But it really doesn’t change things in the sense that our preparation, the standard that we’ll have to play to still is about what we do," Kelly said. "But it’s important to be aware of the excitement and the opportunity that awaits our football team. But we want to make sure our players know you get great opportunities like this at Notre Dame to play on a great stage like this against a rival in USC.”

USC is coming off of a one-point victory over Utah. The Utes scored a touchdown with 43 seconds left to make it a 28-27 game in favor of the Trojans. Instead of kicking the extra point for the tie, the Utes went for the two-point conversion and failed.

Trojans quarterback Sam Darnold is one of the favorites for the Heisman Trophy and Kelly knows what the junior can bring to the table.

“I think everybody nationally knows about Sam Darnold and what he can do- he’s a Heisman Trophy candidate." Kelly said. They are going to be a challenge as it relates to their passing game, and they are very good at running the football as well.”

Notre Dame is coming off of a bye week and heads into the toughest part of its schedule. In their remaining six games, the Irish will face four ranked opponents, including the No. 11 USC Trojans.

Josh Adams is looking to continue to make a push at having his name included in national awards talks.  Currently, Adams ranks second in the country with 9.02 yards per carry. Irish quarterback Brandon Wimbush missed the game against North Carolina with a foot injury, but is expected to be 100% healthy for Saturday’s contest. 

All-Time Series:

Notre Dame leads the all-time intersectional rivalry 46-37-5 over USC.  In South Bend, Notre Dame also holds a lead in the all time series 25-14-1.  The last game against the Trojans in South Bend found the Irish to be victorious by a score of 41-31.