News and Notes: Keys to the Game

How can the Notre Dame defense slow down USC's offense?

If I had that answer, I'd have a job right now as a defensive coordinator. Simply put, there is no way to hold down the Trojan machine all game long. Arizona State holds them to three points in the first half but gives up 35 points in the 2nd half. USC has outscored teams 1041-449 in the second half under Pete Carroll. This is a by-product of great coaching and great talent. Notre Dame will have to continue their trend of creating key turnovers at critical moments of the game. The Irish have produced five red zone takeaways. If that number stays at five after the USC game, that is not a good sign. Matt Leinart will get his yards through the air. Reggie Bush will make a few highlight reel runs. LenDale White will get the tough yards between the tackles. Dwayne Jarrett and Steve Smith will make some big plays in the receiving game. However, for Notre Dame to win, they have to force the Trojans into settling for three points instead of seven. The Irish defense has been good at the bend but don't break but this offense isn't just any old offense. It's the best offense in the land and Notre Dame will have their hands full.

What will Charlie Weis's game plan be?

This varies depending upon whom you ask. Some say a ball control offense with a combination of Darius Walker running and short passes will keep the USC offense off the field and eat up the clock. Others want Notre Dame to come out swinging, get a big lead and then slow the game down with the running attack. Either way, Weis knows best. The offensive guru will have a plan in place not only to score a lot of points, a necessity for beating USC, but also to neutralize the Trojans own offense. One thing is for sure: quarterback Brady Quinn has to have a huge game. The junior signal caller has been flourishing under Weis's system, throwing for over 1600 yards, 13 touchdowns and only 3 interceptions. The game plan varies week to week and that is the fun part of watching Notre Dame. A viewer can never anticipate what is next. The Irish must score early and often to have a chance to keep up with USC.


The atmosphere for this game is going to be electric. Notre Dame has been waiting for a Saturday like this for a long time and Weis has delivered one in only his sixth game. Notre Dame Stadium will be rocking and it'll make life hard on the Trojans. But hasn't USC been through this before? They've gone to two Orange Bowls and one Rose Bowl in the past three years and have been dominant. Two years ago, they started the season on the road in a hostile environment at Auburn. The Trojans shut out the Tigers and that game started the Leinart era. This USC squad may not be as complete as last year's national championship team but the offense is overwhelming. I get the feeling that the USC defense has been slighted this week and the defensive guy that Pete Carroll is will take a lot of pride in trying to stop the Notre Dame offense. On paper, this looks like a clear USC victory. The game is not played on paper but on the field. On the field, though, the Trojans still have way too many weapons for the Irish defense to handle, starting with No. 5 himself, Reggie Bush. USC 45 Notre Dame 31 (for the record, Notre Dame is 2-0 when I pick against them) Top Stories