Notre Dame Football: Keys to Obtaining Perfection vs. USC

Donald WoodFeatured ColumnistNovember 22, 2012

SOUTH BEND, IN - NOVEMBER 17:  Head coach Brian Kelly of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish talks with Manti T'eo #5 during a game against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Notre Dame Stadium on November 17, 2012 in South Bend, Indiana. Notre Dame defeated Wake Forest 38-0.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

When the No. 1 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (11-0) travel to Los Angeles to play the USC Trojans (7-4), the team will not only be fighting for perfection, they will be fighting for BCS glory.

A win against the hated Trojans would be the ultimate cherry on top for the Fighting Irish, who have overcome the odds all season to put themselves in this position.

With just one win separating Notre Dame from a BCS National Championship game, USC must be ready for the most focused Irish team to take the field in 2012.

This team doesn’t want to let their chance at glory slip away.


Utilize the Running Game

Led by the running back random of seniors Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood, the Fighting Irish must not only stick with their run game throughout the game, they must use it to control the clock and keep USC’s offense off the field.

The bright spot of Notre Dame’s offense has been its rushing attack—averaging 200.7 yards per game on the ground and ranking 32nd in the nation—and the Irish must use the senior duo Saturday to exploit the Trojans’ 48th-ranked defense (24.8 points allowed per game).

With the ground game keeping drives alive and allowing the offense to benefit from play-action passing, Notre Dame will control the clock and dismantle USC in the team’s own building.


Defense, Defense, Defense!

There is no better defensive unit in the country this season than Notre Dame’s; it’s that simple.

The Fighting Irish are ranked first in the country—allowing just 10.1 points per game—and led by the play of Heisman Trophy candidate and stellar middle linebacker Manti Te'o, Notre Dame has been the most consistent team in college football.

Add in the fact that starting quarterback Matt Barkley will not play in the game (h/t USA Today) because of a shoulder injury—instead replaced by freshman Max Wittek­—and the odds of the vaunted Irish defense blowing their chances at glory diminish greatly.

As long as Notre Dame doesn’t take the Trojans lightly and every player on the roster does their job to the best of his ability, there is little doubt that the Fighting Irish will finish the season perfect and cash their ticket to the BCS National Championship.


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