Trojans look to continue domination of Irish Print
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Friday, 28 November 2008 14:25
NCAAF Headline News

 LOS ANGELES (AP) -Notre Dame ruled college football's No. 1 intersectional rivalry not long ago, going 12-0-1 against Southern California from 1983-95.
Since Pete Carroll arrived at USC, it's been an entirely different matter, with the Trojans doing the dominating.
When the teams meet for the 80th time Saturday night at the Los Angeles Coliseum, No. 5 USC (9-1) is on track for another BCS bid and the Irish (6-5) are reeling from an embarrassing loss that could be the catalyst to a coaching change.
``Coming off a really tough loss to Syracuse, I know they're determined to do something about it, end their season on a big note, getting ready for the bowl season, all that,'' Carroll said. ``We're going to anticipate they're going to bring great energy in a matchup for us that is going to make us work really hard to get done what we want to get done.''
ast six games against the Irish by an average of 25.7 points including a 38-0 triumph last year, and are favored by 32 points in this year.
Certainly, a Notre Dame victory would be pretty shocking, rivalry or no rivalry.
``That is the type of team where if you don't go out there and play hard and show up, you could have a long day at the office,'' Irish coach Charlie Weis said. ``In almost every series like this, there's been streaks where a team will win for a while, then the other team will win for a while. That's the way it goes.''
Weis was hired four years ago following the firing of Tyrone Willingham, who was dismissed after three years on the job in the wake of a 41-10 loss to USC that left him 21-15 with the Irish.
Weis was a most popular choice after his first two years despite a pair of losses to USC, the first a 34-31 thriller won by the Trojans in the final seconds that ultimately led to a 10-year contract extension.
But the last two seasons have been horrendous, with the Irish already assured of a 14 losses - the most ever in a two-year span at Notre Dame. Weis' record has dropped from 19-6 after two years to 28-20. Even so, it didn't appear his job was in jeopardy until last weekend's 24-23 loss to woeful Syracuse at home, prompting talk of a buyout.
on the road and go out recruiting. That's what the plan is. ``
Sophomore quarterback Jimmy Clausen, who grew up in nearby Westlake Village, said the blame belongs elsewhere.
``You know, it hurts a little bit,'' he said regarding the recent speculation. ``Me and coach Weis have a great relationship. He's not the one out there making blocks, throwing passes, catching the ball, making tackles. It's none of the coaches that are out there playing. It's all the guys in the locker room.
``I just feel really bad for him and his family for getting all this criticism.''
Clausen said he knows several Trojans, adding he chose the Irish over USC because he wanted to grow up in a different place, be coached by Weis and ``just have something special here at Notre Dame.''
Clausen struggled as a freshman on a 3-9 team. Overall, his been better this season - 2,730 yards passing and 20 touchdowns with 15 interceptions - but lately his been spotty at best.
``Jimmy Clausen's a great quarterback,'' USC defensive end Clay Matthews said. ``Any team can win, as you can see by Syracuse. We're looking forward to getting their best shot.''
Clausen and his teammates face quite a task against one of the country's finest defenses. The Trojans have allowed only 19 points after halftime, an NCAA-leading 8.3 points per game and an average of 222.5 yards to rank second in total defense behind No. 14 TCU.
nk you have to try to play as much as you can ball control in the game, but you're going to need some people to make big plays,'' Weis said.
Mark Sanchez has passed for 2,258 yards and 26 touchdowns with only seven interceptions, and tailbacks C.J. Gable, Stafon Johnson and Joe McKnight have rushed for a combined 174.8 yards per game for the Trojans.
``For us here, it's Notre Dame and UCLA that are the matchups that carry the most weight to our fans and alums,'' Carroll said. ``Those are the games that people cherish the most, those wins.
``This is the last gave for us in November, we want to do something good with that, set up our last opportunity to finish off the conference the following week. Hopefully we can make the most of it.''
The Trojans are 26-0 in November games since Carroll was hired in 2001.
USC needs to beat Notre Dame and crosstown rival UCLA next Saturday to remain in contention for the national championship along with an unprecedented seventh straight BCS bowl appearance. But a victory by No. 17 Oregon State over No. 19 Oregon on Saturday would eliminate the Trojans from Rose Bowl contention.

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