The USC vs. Notre Dame rivalry is a classic tale of two long time foes. It’s East vs. West. It’s tradition vs. tradition, without a single name on the back of a jersey. It’s Rockne vs. Jones; Parseghian vs. McKay. It’s about about last second touchdowns and No. 1 rankings. It’s about the culture of college football. It’s a rivalry known for setting attendance records and being the gold standard for college football for more than 85 years. It’s greatest intersectional college football rivalry, bar none.
Saturday night in the Coliseum, the rivalry will write a new chapter. A chapter that will be historic as the series itself, and without a doubt, be movie script worthy.
With the Irish coming into the Coliseum undefeated and ranked No. 1 for the first time since 1988, they’re looking for their first national championship in 24 years and the one that everyone had the Trojans winning back in August.
The season wasn’t supposed to play out like this. With Rick Reilly’s damning article about the state of Notre Dame football in the preseason, it was supposed to be the season that Brian Kelly would struggle to endure, while USC would seemingly waltz to Miami on the backs of a Heisman-winning senior quarterback and the best receiver tandem since the 2006 Indianapolis Colts.
A schedule that was considered to be an absolute murderer’s row has turned the Irish into butchers, while the Trojans are now forced to try and put the pieces back together, creating a slew of intriguing storylines and an ironic twist of fate that only the Iliad could explain.
In addition to what’s gone down in terms of results, the personnel of both teams have dominated the headlines. Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o looks to become the first Heisman Trophy winner to solely play defense, while the Trojans had to scrap the Hesiman campaign of Matt Barkley and start a grassroots movement for star receiver Marqise Lee. But most recently and most importantly, USC’s Barkley won’t get the call tonight, as he’s out with an AC sprain to his right shoulder.
In Barkley’s place is Max Wittek, a tall physical specimen from Connecticut by way of Mater Dei High School, that will have much of America rooting him on, in hopes that he can find a way to dethrone Notre Dame and break down their vaunted defense, thus evicting the Yankees of college football from the promise land of the BCS.
So, it’ll be a magical night at the Coliseum. Because no matter what happens, history will be made and the aforementioned movie script will need to be penned. It’ll be either a coming of age flick about a scrappy band of Irishmen who have defied the odds to achieve glory, or it will be a picture glorifying the plight of a new kid in town, and his unfathomable slaying of the beast in his first go of it.
Two potential future blockbusters. Only one can be written. Which one will it be?