The No.1 ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish have one last game to get through in order to finish the season undefeated and punch a ticket to the BCS National Championship Game.
Unfortunately, it’s against once of their toughest and oldest rivals, the USC Trojans. While no longer in the standings, the Trojans started out the 2012 campaign as the No. 1 team in the AP Poll and are still a major threat to upset on Saturday.
Let’s take a look at the most dangerous weapons on the USC roster and highlight which players the Irish must focus on locking down in order to secure a victory.
Marqise Lee, WR
Lee is one of the top receivers in the country, but may struggle without Matt Barkley under center. The QB suffered a sprain AC joint against UCLA and will miss the Notre Dame matchup.
However, the Irish defensive backs cannot lose focus, as Lee is still dangerous regardless of who is throwing the ball. He’s gone off in 2012, catching 107 passes for a FBS-high 1,605 yards and scored 14 touchdowns.
The sophomore is a matchup nightmare and will need to be doubled as often as possible in order to keep him out of the end zone.
Morgan Breslin, DE
Breslin is a QB assassin, having recorded 11.5 sacks on the season, just one off from leading the nation. He’s been heating up the past two games, even if his team hasn’t followed suit.
Against UCLA last week, he brought down the signal-caller twice, and had 1.5 sacks versus the Arizona State Sun Devils. If he’s getting into the backfield and hindering Everett Golson, the Irish are going to have a tough time generating points.
Expect ND coach Brian Kelly to focus his offensive line’s game plan on stopping Breslin from causing too much chaos.
Silas Redd, RB
This junior running back transferred from Penn State after the Sandusky scandal rocked the program. He’s seamlessly transitioned to life in Southern California, carrying the ball 138 times for 740 yards and scoring nine touchdowns.
With Barkley out, we can expect USC coach Lane Kiffin to dial up plenty of touches for this stout, 5’10”, 200-pounder in the backfield. He's a playmaker and could easily find pay dirt on Saturday.
Fortunately for the Irish, Redd isn’t a great receiver, having only caught six passes for 99 yards in 2012, and he’s unlikely to get many check down passes from redshirt freshman QB Max Wittek for this reason.