Irish get their shot at revenge against Trojans

November 25th, 2006  
Team Infidel

Topic: Irish get their shot at revenge against Trojans


Associated Press

LOS ANGELES - Most of the star power Southern California used to beat Notre Dame and almost everyone else the Trojans faced during the past four years is gone.
Nevertheless, the Trojans keep winning and once again have a chance to play for a national title. The reason is no mystery to Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis - it's coach Pete Carroll.
"All I know is the guy, in the last 57 games the guy played, they won 54 of them," Weis said. "You think about what I just said now. Fifty-four out of 57. I mean, three losses by a combined eight points over that span.
"I mean, if you give me that record right now, I'll take the next four years off. Go ahead, give me that record right now, I'll take a little siesta."
One of USC's closest calls during the past five seasons came last year at Notre Dame Stadium, when the Trojans rallied for a 34-31 win on a 1-yard sneak by quarterback Matt Leinart in the final seconds.
Weis and his team have waited more than 13 months to avenge that bitter setback. They'll get that opportunity Saturday night at the Los Angeles Coliseum when the teams meet for the 78th time in one of college football's most intense rivalries.
"What a great thing this is - to have a football game of this magnitude and this style and class coming up," Carroll said. "They bring so much following from the middle of the country and we have tremendous following here and around the country but primarily set in the West."
As usual, the Trojans are peaking late in the season, having outscored three opponents 100-19 this month to raise their record in November games under Carroll to 19-0. In addition, USC has won 32 straight at the Coliseum.
Just to add spice to the game, as if it was needed, the Trojans (9-1) need a victory to stay alive in the national championship race. They've played in the BCS title game the past two years - winning one and losing one - and earned a piece of the national championship three years ago after being bypassed for the title game.
Should the Trojans beat Notre Dame (10-1) and crosstown rival UCLA next weekend, they appear to have an excellent shot of playing No. 1 Ohio State in the BCS championship game Jan. 8.
"I don't know how to figure the thing out," Carroll said. "I think it's pretty hard to keep us out of it because of the strength of schedule that we've had to play.
"We're going to play these games and at the end of it, we're going to have a chance to have an extraordinary season and if that's worthy of the selection process for the BCS game, then we'll pack up and go. That's OK - we would like that."
The non-conference schools on USC's schedule are No. 6 Notre Dame, No. 5 Arkansas and No. 23 Nebraska. The Trojans beat Arkansas 50-14 and Nebraska 28-10 in September. Their loss was a 33-31 setback at Oregon State last month.
Notre Dame's title chances aren't nearly as good because of a 47-21 home loss to No. 2 Michigan in September. Jumping over Michigan into the title game against Ohio State is going to be very tough for the Irish.
Weis makes no argument.
"You had your opportunity. You lost a game at home," he said. "The bottom line is, if you wouldn't have lost, you'd be like Ohio State - guaranteed a spot."
With Leinart gone, John David Booty has taken over at quarterback for the Trojans, and he's done a commendable job, passing for 2,417 yards and 22 touchdowns with six interceptions.
"I'm just really excited to finally be a part of it," Booty said regarding the Notre Dame-USC rivalry.
Tailbacks Reggie Bush and LenDale White, who starred for USC along with Leinart from 2003-05, have been succeeded by Chauncey Washington and a cast of freshmen. Only four of the Trojans' listed starters are seniors compared to 18 for the Irish.
Notre Dame's Brady Quinn, a Heisman Trophy candidate who has passed for 3,004 yards and 32 touchdowns with five interceptions, will be playing in his final regular-season game and, like all of his teammates, has hopes of finally beating USC.
"This team has a lot of confidence," Quinn said. "We've improved so much over the past couple months where we feel we're at a pretty good spot right now."
Quinn admitted he never thought he'd reach this point in his career without having been on the winning side against the Trojans.
"That's pretty big as far as where it comes in to motivate me," he said. "Going into this game, that's definitely one of the things that's on my mind."
Just as none of the Notre Dame players have been on the winning side against USC, none of the Trojans have been on the losing side against the Irish.
"I'm not about to leave with a loss, either," senior USC center Ryan Kalil said.

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