Is This the Worst USC vs. Notre Dame Matchup Ever?

Sean Frye@Sean_E_FryeFeatured ColumnistOctober 16, 2013

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 24:  Marqise Lee #9 of the USC Trojans keeps his balance after a catch as Bennett Jackson #2 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish defends during a 22-13 Notrre Dame win at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on November 24, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

The USC Trojans are set to take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in South Bend, Ind., with the Irish looking for their first home win against the Trojans since 2001. 

Both teams are unranked and playing for pride at this point in the season. Does that mean this is one of the worst matchups in the history of the rivalry? 

First off, neither the Trojans or Irish are ranked in the AP poll. This is just the 10th time in the series history between these two schools that neither team is ranked in the AP poll since 1940, according to the USC media guide

Secondly, there are no marquee players worthy of following in this game. The only legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate in the preseason on either side was Trojans wide receiver Marqise Lee. But his 2013 season has been a disappointment up to this point with only 385 yards receiving and one score. 

Lee's struggles are due to both injury and a lack of a good quarterback throwing him the ball. He missed his team's last game against Arizona because of a knee injury, but signs indicate that he will return against the Irish, as reported by to Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times. 

Aug 31, 2013; South Bend, IN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Tommy Rees (11) talks with head coach Brian Kelly in the third quarter against the Temple Owls at Notre Dame Stadium. Notre Dame won 28-6. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sp
Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

The two head coaches in this year's matchup also differ vastly on the importance of this game, which brings down the excitement level and significance as a whole. 

In another article by Klein, he says that USC interim head coach Ed Orgeron is downplaying the game against Notre Dame. 

"I don't want to make it bigger than life," Orgeron said. 

However, Notre Dame's Brian Kelly is adamant about his stance that the Trojans are the Irish's biggest rival. This comes after his comments earlier in the year about the Michigan Wolverines not being a historic rival of the Irish, per the Chicago Tribune.  

According to Brian Hamilton of the Tribune, Kelly says that his team looks forward to playing USC all year. 

We go through the season and so many weeks, it's on the other side. In other words, it's other teams really calling it their rivalry game. Our players would be the first ones to admit that this is our rivalry game, one week that we look forward to.

Nevertheless, this year's game holds virtually no significance for either team.

At 4-2 with games against BYU and Stanford left, the Irish are basically out of contention for a BCS bowl and likely won't reach double-digit wins just one year removed from going to the BCS National Championship. 

USC is also in shambles, standing at 4-2 overall and just 1-2 in the Pac-12. It has yet to face Stanford or UCLA. The Trojans are simply trying to recover from the Lane Kiffin era, which ended in September following USC's 0-2 start in Pac-12 play. 

With almost nothing to gain but pride with a win by either side and without any Heisman contenders to pay attention to, this year's USC-Notre Dame game could be the worst ever.