These aren't exactly boom times for college football's most storied intersectional rivalry. Neither team is ranked and USC is ineligible for a bowl game due to NCAA sanctions. The last time both teams were unranked entering this game was in Pete Carroll's first year, 2001, when the Irish won 27-16 in South Bend. Notre Dame (6-5) qualified for a bowl game by defeating Army last week while USC (7-4, 4-4 in the Pac-10) is coming off its worst loss of the year, a 36-7 beating at Oregon State. Let's examine some matchups in more depth:
Mark Saxon covers the St. Louis Cardinals for ESPN.com. He served as the Dodgers team reporter for ESPNLosAngeles.com. through the 2015 season. He spent six years at the Orange County Register, and began his career at the Oakland Tribune, where he started an 11-year journey covering Major League Baseball. He has also covered colleges, including USC football and UCLA basketball.