Aug 31, 2013; South Bend, IN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly leads his players onto the field before the game against the Temple Owls at Notre Dame Stadium. Notre Dame won 28-6. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

USC vs Notre Dame 2013 Gameday Preview: Lineups and Links

USC Trojans vs Notre Dame Irish

Notre Dame Stadium | South Bend, Indiana

4:30 Pacific | NBC

All-Time Series: 34-44-5

Last Meeting: USC 13, Notre Dame 22 in 2012


In case you hadn’t heard, The Greatest Intersectional Rivalry in College Football History kicks off for the 85th time today in South Bend. Ignore the fact that that both teams are unranked and a disappointing 4-2. Ignore the fact that USC is 3-7 in such unheralded match ups with the Irish historically. Ignore the fact that the Trojans have won just twice in 17 tries when entering Notre Dame Stadium with two losses. Ignore the fact that the Irish just beat the Arizona State team that blew out the Trojans earlier this season. Instead, have a cookie.

Feel better? Yeah, we thought so.

Here’s the good news: the watchful eyes of Touchdown Jesus haven’t witnessed a Notre Dame victory against the Trojans on home field since 2001. Coach Ed “Cookie Monster” Orgeron has the Trojans fired up as he attempts to become just the third USC head coach to get a win in his first meeting with the Irish.

Gameday Links:

When Notre Dame Has the Ball…

Notre Dame will look to get George Atkinson III and the stable of running backs including former Trojan Amir Carlisle going early in order to take pressure off of quarterback Tommy Rees. If Rees can stay upright and unrattled, his primary targets will be veteran possession receiver TJ Jones and DaVaris Daniels. TE Troy Niklas should also feature heavily in the Irish offense.

The Trojans will look to neutralize the Irish with a furious pass rush. The expected return of Morgan Breslin should help on that front, as will the emergence of J.R. Tavai as a presence on the defensive line. However, Notre Dame has given up just four sacks this season, so the USC secondary won’t be able to rely solely on quarterback pressure disrupting the Irish passing game. Another returning starter, Anthony Brown, could have a huge impact.

Irish Projected Starting Offense

WR #7 TJ Jones
WR #10 DaVaris Daniels
LT #70 Zack Martin
LG #66 Chris Watt
C #72 Nick Marti
RG #74 Christian Lombard
RT #78 Ronnie Stanley
TE #85 Troy Niklas
WR #2 Chris Brown
QB #11 Tommy Rees
RB #4 George Atkinson III

Trojan Projected Starting Defense

OLB #42 Devon Kennard
DE #94 Leonard Williams
NT #99 Antwaun Woods
DE #90 George Uko
OLB #91 Morgan Breslin
MLB #10 Hayes Pullard
WLB #55 Lamar Dawson
CB #16 Anthony Brown
FS #18 Dion Bailey
SS #21 Su’a Cravens
CB #13 Kevon Seymour

When USC has the ball…

Under the control of Clay Helton last week, the Trojans appeared noticeably more comfortable on offense. Cody Kessler will be hoping to build on his nearly 300 yard performance last week, a hope that should be bolstered by the potential return of All-American receiver Marqise Lee and the growth of Nelson Agholor in Lee’s absence. Last week the USC tight ends were targeted more, so both Xavier Grimble, who is fighting off injury, and Randall Telfer could be increasingly important to the passing game. At running back, Tre Madden hasn’t practiced since tweaking his hamstring against Arizona, so Silas Redd could be looking at increased duties in his second game back.

Notre Dame’s defense has not been the dominant force they were last season but they still boast a talented defensive line whose number one job will be stopping USC’s run game in their tracks. Like USC, the Irish have struggled against the pass this season, ranking 89th nationally in pass defense, so stifling the run and keeping the Trojans from the ability to run effective play action would make the job of the responsibility of the secondary that much easier.

Trojan Projected Starting Offense

WR #15 Nelson Agholor
LT #72 Chad Wheeler
LG #75 Max Tuerk
C #66 Marcus Martin
RG #70 Aundrey Walker
RT #77 Kevin Graf
TE #86 Xavier Grimble
or #82 Randall Telfer
WR #9 Marqise Lee
QB #6 Cody Kessler
FB #38 Jahleel Pinner
TB # 25 Silas Redd

Irish Projected Starting Defense

DL #91 Sheldon Day
DL #1 Louis Nix III
DL #7 Stephon Tuitt
OLB #55 Prince Shembo
ILB 48 Dan Fox
ILB 44 Carlo Calabrese
OLB 9 Jaylon Smith
CB 6 Keivarae Russell
CB 2 Bennett Jackson

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Tags: Notre Dame Fighting Irish USC Trojans

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