Looking Ahead to Notre Dame


Any time USC loses, it’s a disappointing day. However, the Trojans have a chance to close out the season on a two game winning streak if they can dispatch their rivals. While 9-4 wouldn’t be ideal, fans would take solace in the fact that USC managed to continue its recent domination of its rivals. To its credit, Notre Dame’s fight song is rather iconic. Is it “Fight On!”, though? Not a chance! Bring on the Irish!

ESPN Pac-10 Blogger Ted Miller:

What to watch for:
Will Mustain (finally) get his close-up? USC’s backup QB Mitch Mustain is the best-known player in college football who has seen barely any action since 2007, when he was a good SEC quarterback, going 8-0 at Arkansas as a true freshman. But playing QB in the Pac-10 is a whole other level, and Mustain was never able to win the Trojans’ starting job. But with Matt Barkley’s high-ankle sprain, it’s possible — likely? — he will get the call Saturday against rival Notre Dame. It’s a great chance for him to earn some redemption as well as help his team. And, he also might raise an NFL eyebrow or two (see Cassel, Matt).

Will the USC D (finally) make a stand? If Barkley can’t play against Notre Dame due to a sprained ankle, that means we have no idea what we’ll see from the USC offense. So this would be a good weekend for the Trojans’ defense, which has ranged from bad to mediocre this year, to take a big step forward. And the Notre Dame offense, which also is using a backup QB — freshman Tommy Rees — is hardly a juggernaut. The USC offense may not be able to score in bunches, as it often did with Barkley, but it can still score enough to win a ninth consecutive game versus the Fighting Irish if the D makes a stand.

Quick Preview:
Notre Dame (5-5) at USC (7-4), 8 p.m., ABC: USC has won eight consecutive battles for the Jeweled Shillelagh. But will QB Matt Barkley be ready to go? High-ankle sprains don’t heal quickly. Or will star-crossed backup Mitch Mustain finally get a chance to shine. And do so.

Predictions:
Notre Dame 28, USC 24: Notre Dame’s defense has been playing better, and the Trojans offense looked terrible at Oregon State. And will QB Matt Barkley be able to play? Notre Dame has lost eight straight to the Trojans, which ties a school record for consecutive losses to an opponent, but the Irish will not lose a ninth.

Under Pete Carroll, the Trojans reigned over the Pac-10 as part of perhaps the greatest dynasty in college football. During that period, USC also dominated Notre Dame as well, and they look to make it nine straight on Saturday.

The Los Angeles Times:

Dillon Baxter has been reinstated by the NCAA. The golf cart incident was about the third issue with Baxter, and it’s worrisome. However, the whole ordeal was a sham and just goes to show the absurdity that is the incompetent governing body of college athletics.

Attending USC has been the greatest experience of my life. The blend of academics and a social life make it one of the best universities to attend (if not the best). As T.J. Simers points out, Trojans are the life of the party.

After the NCAA debacle, USC hired Pat Haden and went to unprecedented lengths to beef up its compliance department. The Dillon Baxter incident showed that the department is off to a good start as it aims for a smooth ride towards becoming the most effective in college athletics.

With Matt Barkley nursing a high ankle sprain, it appears Mitch Mustain will start at quarterback Saturday. He went 8-0 his freshman year at Arkansas before transferring to USC.

The Orange County Register:

Mitch Mustain will take the reigns for Saturday most likely. He looked phenomenal in practice Wednesday.

Matt Barkley said that he plans to play against UCLA, and still hopes to make it back for the Notre Dame game. His ankle is feeling better after getting caught awkwardly under a defensive lineman at Oregon State.

Mustain wasn’t the only one to have a good practice Wednesday. Lane Kiffin believes the defense had its best practice to date this season.

For USC to use the word “success” to describe the season, sweeping their rivals is a must.

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