Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 26, 2022*

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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32 NOV. 26, 2022 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY TYLER HORKA A hhhhh. Love it or hate it, Notre Dame fans, but this just feels right. The Fighting Irish's ri- valry with the Southern Cal Trojans finally has some flare again, and it only took one season of Lincoln Riley residing in Southern California for it to come back in full swing. Brian Kelly was the head coach at Notre Dame for 12 years. The Irish and Trojans played 11 times in that span. Southern Cal was a betting favorite in just three of those games. Kelly's Notre Dame teams went 8-3 against Southern Cal. He faced five dif- ferent Southern Cal head coaches; Lane Kiffin three times, Ed Orgeron once, Steve Sarkisian once, Clay Helton six times and Donte Williams once. Now, both teams seem to have the sort of stability Kelly provided for a dozen years. Riley, 39, and Notre Dame head coach Marcus Freeman, 36, are both in their first seasons at the helm of their respec- tive programs. Riley left a powerhouse at Oklahoma to be where he's at. He's not going anywhere else within college foot- ball. It's hard to imagine he would, any- way. The same goes for Freeman. Listen to the way he fawns over Notre Dame. He's exactly where he wants to be. With their snugness in SoCal and South Bend comes one of college foot- ball's most tradition-rich rivalries. It's not on the scale of Ohio State-Michigan or Alabama-Auburn. Regionality has something to do with that. But over the years, the Irish and Trojans have played out some classics. The idea is, with two young head coaches — one of whom is already a superstar of a program-leader and the other is well on his way — Notre Dame vs. Southern Cal will be appointment viewing for every college football fan on an annual basis. Notre Dame was a couple bad losses away from this game meaning a whole lot more than bragging rights. And that's fine. Southern Cal had more than its fair share of letdown losses that lessened the mag- nitude of this rivalry in the last decade. But imagine if Riley's offense stays humming and his team's defense im- proves through the years. And imagine if Notre Dame's recruiting class, currently ranked No. 3 in the On3 Consensus, puts the program in a place in which it's unde- feated or has just one loss every time the ball is kicked off against Southern Cal. College football would be better for that. There has been a double-digit point spread in three of the last five games be- tween these two rivals. Right on cue, only two of those five finished with a team within one score of the other. Ironically, the last time these programs met while both were ranked was 2017. Notre Dame took it to the Trojans 49-14 that season. That blowout meant something because Southern Cal won the Rose Bowl the pre- vious year and would eventually make it to the Cotton Bowl later that season. Beating Southern Cal by 15 last fall, meanwhile? Ho-hum. Expected. The eventual 4-8 Trojans had already fired Helton and were in the midst of uncertainty in a coaching search. Now, their future is clear-cut. It's Riley's program. He has it turned around in a matter of months. Is that going to make life tougher on the Irish? Absolutely. Is it going to make the game more of an attraction annually? You better believe it. CULTURE CHANGE Let's not get too ahead of ourselves. This isn't Pete Carroll's Southern Cal yet. Those Trojans went 8-1 against Notre Dame from 2001-09 and claimed na- tional championships in 2003 and 2004. The Irish battled instability issues of their own during that span, sending three different head coaches out to face Carroll's booming dynasty. In another GAME PREVIEW: SOUTHERN CAL Lights , Camera , aCtion Notre Dame vs. Southern Cal has a feel of importance once lost in the Trojans' struggles but gained back with the resurgence of a new regime Head coach Lincoln Riley has picked up in Los Angeles where he left off in Norman, Okla., with another high-powered offense. PHOTO COURTESY SOUTHERN CAL Facts & Figures NOTRE DAME AT SOUTHERN CAL Date: Nov. 26, 2022 Site: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET Television: ABC Radio: This game can be heard on Notre Dame IMG affiliates. Series Facts: This is the 92nd overall meeting between Notre Dame and Southern Cal. Notre Dame owns the series record, 50-37-5, and won the last meeting 31-16 in South Bend on Oct. 23, 2021. Head coaches: Southern Cal — Lincoln (10-1, first season); Notre Dame — Marcus Freeman (8-4, first season). Noting Southern Cal: The Trojans lost starting running back Travis Dye for the season for the season Nov. 11; Dye had 884 rushing yards and 9 touchdowns in 10 games … Wide receiver Jordan Addison, the 2021 Biletnikoff Award winner at Pittsburgh, had 40 catches for 587 yards and 7 touchdowns in his first 8 games played at Southern Cal; he missed two games with an injury … Southern Cal only returned 5 starters on offense and 3 on defense from the 2021 roster … SSouthern Cal will play its 639th game at the Los Angeles Coliseum; that is the third most any program has ever played in one stadium behind Georgia Tech's 719 at Bobby Dodd Stadium and Tennessee's 646 at Neyland Stadium … Southern Cal has 33 transfer players on its roster.

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