2012 Game 12: USC vs. Notre Dame

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No. 1 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (11-0) at USC (7-4)

Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum at 5 p.m. PT on ABC

Irish to Watch: Senior LB Manti Te'o

Teo-Manti.jpgHe has the Trojans attention.  Te'o's name came up in nearly every interview and press conference this week and for good reason.  The middle linebacker is in the Heisman mix thanks to 98 tackles and six interceptions (second in the nation).  More importantly, the Irish are one win away from the BCS Championship Game because Te'o is an indomitable leader who feeds energy and power into a defense that has only given up nine touchdowns this season.  If he can carve out a signature moment Saturday, he can put one hand on both the Heisman and the crystal football.

Click here for more on the Fighting Irish.

3 Keys

To the Max

Max Wittek can make all the throws and then some.  The redshirt freshman spins the football like an NFL veteran, but decision-making and accuracy not arm strength will determine how successful he is in his debut.  The Trojans are unlikely to control the game on the ground against the nation's fifth ranked rush defense (92 yards allowed per game), so the pressure will be on the QB.  Marqise Lee and Robert Woods have been focused all week on building Wittek's confidence by making every conceivable catch, and they must take that mindset into the game.  Notre Dame's one presumed weakness is in the secondary, which plays into the Trojans strength if Wittek can deliver on time and on target.

Traditional Rival

USC's defense has fallen on hard times in the last month as opponent after opponent has spread the Trojans out.  In some ways, the Fighting Irish can similarly exploit USC with mobile QB Everett Golson, big TE Tyler Eifert and empty formations with five receiving targets.  However, Golson is not particularly accurate (59% completions) and T.J. Jones is the only real threat at wide receiver (enter Nickell Robey).  Lane Kiffin made no secret this week that the USC defense is better built to handle Notre Dame's offense than Oregon, Arizona or UCLA.  To that end, the Fighting Irish only scored one offensive TD against the Trojans in South Bend last season.


Football is an emotional game.  And on paper, Notre Dame has so much more to play for than USC.  On the flip side, the Fighting Irish come in to the Coliseum bearing all the pressure, while the underdog Trojans have no reason not to play free and easy.  Either way, the mental aspect of this game will be just as important as the physical.  How much does it mean to USC to spoil Notre Dame's season?  Will the Trojans rally around their seniors in their final home game?  USC is more than equipped to win this game if the Trojans rise to the fight.

USC's 31-17 win in South Bend last season was the first signature win of the Kiffin era.

1 Comment

Lame Kiffin is a complete jerk. He looks like a little kid and his demeanor is like he took a double dose of laxative prior to the game. The team just was held from scoring on the goal line. This is the same stand that Notre Dame did several games ago...did Lame Kiffin not see the film? Please give the Trojan fans someone that inspires the team and the audience...that calls plays that reflect our talent and win games. This guy is a complete idiot!

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