Three for Three?

Prediction #12 examines Notre Dame's trio of home games vs. rivals Michigan State, USC, and Boston College.

USC, Boston College, and Michigan State: three rivals that have fashioned recent winning streaks vs. the Irish.

  • USC: 8 consecutive in the annual battle
  • Boston College: 6 consecutive wins over a 10-year span
  • Michigan State: 6 consecutive in South Bend, plus a stunning 5 straight overall

None of the above is active, thanks to both former head coach Charlie Weis and second-year head man Brian Kelly, who ended the Trojans run of domination last November. But other streaks of success remain, such as USC's four straight in South Bend or Mark Dantonio's three wins in four meetings with the Irish as Michigan State's head coach.

Matchups with the Trojans and Spartans have helped Notre Dame's program shape football history for nearly a century while the Eagles rank as the school's most troublesome new rivalry – with both season-debilitating and program-altering wins as feathers in their program's cap over the last 20 years.

But for the first time since 1992, and for only the third time in Notre Dame history, Notre Dame will defeat all of them in the same season.

Which brings us to the next prediction in our summer series.

Prediction #12: MSU, USC, and BC = 0-3 vs. the Irish

While victories over USC, MSU, and BC have been at a premium over the last 18 seasons, such hasn't always been the case.

Not since 1992 have the Irish handled each of their three rivals, that year pounding the Spartans 52-31; humiliating the then-No. 9-ranked Eagles, 54-7; and fighting off a game, #19-ranked USC team, 31-23 in the Coliseum.

Rivalries Revisited

Highs and lows vs. the Spartans, Trojans, and Eagles:

  • 1983 through 1993: The Irish beat USC in 11 straight; Michigan State in 9 of 11 (including seven consecutive), and beat Boston College in their only three meetings prior to the Eagles landmark, regular season-ending upset in '93. Notre Dame's aggregate record vs. the trio from 1983-1993: 23-3

  • 1994: Rallied to beat State, 21-20; tied the Trojans (17-17) and were hammered as 10-point favorites at BC (30-10). Record: 2-1
  • 1995: Did not play Michigan State; destroyed unbeaten and #5 USC 38-10, and handled Boston College, 20-10. Record: 2-0
  • 1996: Did not play Michigan State; defeated Boston College handily, 48-21; lost for the first time in 13 meetings to USC, 27-20 in OT. Record: 1-1

    Bob Davie Era:

  • 1997: Lost to #17 MSU 23-7; poured on a 52-20 beating of BC; lost to USC in South Bend for the first time since 1981, 20-17. Record: 1-2
  • 1998: Lost 45-23 at Michigan State (trailed 42-3); won a thriller with a goal line stand at Boston College, 31-26; lost a BCS-elimination game at USC, 10-0. Record: A costly 1-2, with the Spartans and Trojans handing the Irish their only two regular season defeats.
  • 1999: Lost at home to Michigan State, 23-13; roared back to beat USC in the rain, 25-24; lost on Senior Day to BC, 31-29. Record: 1-2
  • 2000: Lost to MSU 27-21; defeated BC in South Bend, 28-16; hammered USC in Los Angeles to earn a BCS berth, 38-21. Record: 2-1
  • 2001: Did not play the Spartans; defeated USC and first-year head coach Pete Carroll, 27-16 in South Bend; lost at Boston College under the lights, 21-17. Record: 1-2

    Ty Willingham Era:

  • 2002: Won a miracle at Michigan State, 21-17; lost as the BCS #3 team at home to Boston College, 14-7; were destroyed at USC, 44-13. Record: 1-2
  • 2003: Lost at home to MSU, 22-16; were again handled by USC, 45-14; lost at Boston College 27-25. Record: 0-3
  • 2004: Held off MSU, 31-24 in East Lansing; lost to BC in South Bend, 24-23; lost at USC to end the Willingham era, 41-10. Record: 1-2

    Charlie Weis Era:

  • 2005: Did not play BC; lost a thriller at home to MSU, 44-41 in OT; lost the Bush Push game vs. USC, 34-31. The losses to the Spartans and Trojans marked the team's only regular season defeats for the second time in eight seasons. Record: 0-2
  • 2006: Did not play BC; came back to win a wild one in East Lansing, 40-37; lost a slim chance at the BCS title game with a 44-24 defeat to end the season in Los Angeles. Record: 1-1
  • 2007: Lost 31-14 to MSU; lost 27-14 in a valiant effort vs. No. 3 Boston College; were humiliated by USC, 38-0 – each contest was played in South Bend. Record: 0-3
  • 2008: Lost 23-7 at Michigan State; lost 17-0 at Boston College; lost 38-3 at USC. Record: 0-3
  • 2009: Defeated MSU in South Bend for the first time in 16 years, 33-30; defeated Boston College for the first time in six matchups, 20-16; lost a heartbreaker to USC, 34-27. Record: 2-1

    Brian Kelly Era:

  • 2010: Lost to MSU in overtime, 34-31; defeated Boston College handily in Chestnut Hill, 31-13; defeated USC for the first time in eight meetings, 20-16. Record: 2-1
  • 2011: Will face Michigan State (September 17), USC (October 22) and Boston College (Senior Day, November 19) in South Bend.

The Irish have won just 18 of 47 matchups vs. the trio since sweeping their rivals in the 1992 season (a combined 0-6 mark in '07/'08 incurred the most damage to the wrong sides of the W/L ledger).

2011 marks the sixth time the Irish will host each of these three rivals in South Bend (most recently in 2009), never finishing better than 2-1 previously.

None of the three will be cakewalks, but each will contribute a notch to the left side of the W-L ledger, en route to a 6-1 home mark for Notre Dame this fall.

*Note: Notre Dame faced each of the three rivals in South Bend in 2009, 2007, 1999, 1997, 1993, and 1987. Their aggregate record in those contests was 9-9.

Prediction #11 – Eifert to score 5 or more

Prediction #10 – 13 under 30

Prediction #9 – MSU as the highest scoring game

Prediction #8 – Roaring 20s

Prediction #7 – September Slip

Prediction #6 – 17-season streak ends

Prediction #5 – Better, Worse, Why? (2010-11 statistical comparison)

Better, Worse, Why? Part II

Prediction #4 – Blanton to lead team in picks

Prediction #3 – The Irish will lose a home game

Prediction #2 – Fleming and Johnson join the Top 5

Prediction #1 – Wood will score 10 TD


IrishIllustrated.com Top Stories