There is certainly no love lost when Notre Dame and USC meet. This is the greatest intersectional rivalry in college football, and one the Fighting Irish have dominated the last decade.
Former USC wide receiver John Jackson on the Notre Dame game: "There is no bones about it. I hate Notre Dame."
No surprises here.
USC doesn’t like Notre Dame at all.
Jackson, an ESPN announcer and a 1990 USC graduate who played wide receiver for the Trojans, passed down a story from USC interim coach Donte Williams about the rivalry, which hasn’t been much of a rivalry lately. The Irish have won seven of the last 10 games, and USC has only won 14 times in South Bend. USC hasn’t won at Notre Dame since 2011.
“Donte talked about it a little bit. The best recruits are on both teams and they hate each other,” Jackson said on the USC radio network. “At UCLA, they are across town. Some of those guys you knew, you played with maybe, but we hate Notre Dame. There is no bones about it. I can’t stand Notre Dame.”
Apparently, according to former USC quarterback Max Browne, the showers in the visitor’s locker room are always ice cold, and the Michigan City hotel the Trojans stay at is the worst hotel they stay at all year. Also, the visitor’s locker room is awful per Browne.
And the fans are almost on the field, Williams said. As opposed to the coliseum, where binoculars are recommended for almost any spot in the stadium.
Current USC senior defensive lineman Nick Figueora had a more temperate view of what this game means.
“It means everything,” Figueora said of trying to get a win over the Notre Dame. “It hasn’t been done (beating them at home) since 2011. I think it’s the mark of turning our season around. Definitely, if you’re a Trojan, you want to beat the Irish. “
For sure, USC is playing up the second half of the season as a new start. The Trojans also had a bye week.
According to Williams, the off-week has given the team a chance to adjust and reflect.
“I think we have a big grasp on what we want to do and we just got a slight head start on Notre Dame,” Williams said. “Having the extra week of practice got us back to the basics. It’s my hope that the guys are seeing it (the game) at a little bit slower speed.”
It’s been a tumultuous year for the Trojans. Williams took over after Stanford beat the Trojans 42-28 in the second game of the season. Clay Helton, who had been the coach for six-plus seasons, was fired. The next week the Trojans, who were ranked in the top 25 to start the year, played their best game of the season, beating Washington State 45-14 on the road. It’s possible that USC lost its best quarterback in that game, which could be part of the reason for their up-and-down performances. The Trojans lost to Utah 42-26 on Oct. 9, which was their last game. Utah piled up 486 yards of offense against USC. It ran for 189 yards.
Jaxson Dart, a 6-foot-3 freshman, relieved Kedon Slovis at quarterback against WSU. He finished with 391 yards passing and two touchdown passes while running for 32 yards. Dart tore the meniscus in his knee in the win and hasn’t played since.
There was a buzz that he might play against the Irish but Williams made it sound like that would be unlikely. Dart was taking reps with the second team.
“He’s still week-to-week,” Williams said. “I doubt that he’d be ready for this particular week and this particular game.”
For now, Williams is trying to get his team revved up for a big rivalry game against its most despised rival with the message that it’s a brand new season but it’s still just another game.
“I mean if it was 10 degrees and snowing it would be different,” Williams said of playing at Notre Dame. “It’s nice, especially this time of year. To be honest, it’s just like any other place.”
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