The "Greatest Inter-sectional Rivalry in College Football" between Notre Dame and Southern Cal will continue this Saturday, and the significance of this annual grudge match will not be lost on either side's fans, students, coaches, or players.
Here's a look at how the Fighting Irish are preparing for "Fight Night" in Notre Dame Stadium:
Embracing the Hype
Brian Kelly officially kicked off "Beat SC Week" during his press conference Tuesday night when he said, per Brian Hamilton of the Chicago Tribune, "Our players would be the first ones to admit that this is our rivalry game, one week that we look forward to." The Notre Dame athletics department followed suit by releasing this primer video to further fuel the hype.
When I was the Fighting Irish Leprechaun I spent "Beat SC Week" generating buzz alongside my fellow students as we tagged every sidewalk, wall, bench and tree with anti-Trojan and pro-Irish propaganda (in washable sidewalk chalk). Then we hosted a friendly "meet and greet" for the Trojans when they arrived at Notre Dame Stadium for their Friday afternoon walk through. Fans can expect more of the same this year, especially considering that Lou Holtz and his 1988 team will be celebrating the 25th reunion of Notre Dame's most recent national title.
My suggestion: Get to campus early on Friday and participate in as many ways as humanly possible. Simple acts can go a long way towards making a big difference, especially when everyone does their part. Don’t be afraid to join the cause.
Blowing off Steam
Most Fighting Irish fans will agree that last weekend—Notre Dame's bye week—dragged along at a snail's pace. Fret not, for good things come to those who wait. This is your chance to let loose two whole weeks of pent up energy. As an added bonus, Friday marks the end of midterm exams at Notre Dame. That means the students will have plenty of nerd-steam to blow off all weekend long.
My suggestion: Join in their revelry.
Creating a Spectacle
The show starts Friday afternoon, and it won't let up until the wee hours of Sunday morning after Saturday's night game in Notre Dame Stadium.
Several of the student dorms are making special preparations for the rivalry weekend, including famed Alumni Hall, which will host a "Quad Dancing" party on South Quad at precisely 12:31 p.m. on Friday.
According to Alumni Hall's spirit commissioner Jack Rooney, "The whole dorm will be outside dancing in their best costumes and masks. Then, for the pep rally, we are going with the classic 'anything but clothes' theme... we will definitely make our presence known on Library Quad." Not only will the pep rally beginning at 5:45 p.m. between Notre Dame Stadium and Touchdown Jesus include several nearly-naked residents of Alumni Hall, but Lou Holtz himself plans on delivering the keynote address.
Other notable "Beat SC Week" events taking place throughout the weekend include the following:
- Midnight Drummer Circle: Fans can kick off game day the right way with the Notre Dame Drum Line as they go the extra mile to wake up the echoes prior to their battle with the Trojans. Expect angry mobs, flags of war, and cymbals ignited with green fire as crowds surround the steps of the Golden Dome.
- Bagpipe Band Call to Arms: Notre Dame's pipers will issue a call to arms on the steps of the Golden Dome precisely four hours prior to kickoff. There's no better way to get amped up for the Fighting Irish than by rocking out to blaring bagpipes.
- The Player Walk: Fans can watch Brian Kelly, Zach Martin, T.J. Jones and Bennett Jackson lead the way as their team struts across campus in front of Touchdown Jesus into Notre Dame Stadium. Be sure to check out the special swag they plan on wearing in honor of the rivalry.
- Step Off: The Band of the Fighting Irish will march across campus from the Golden Dome to Notre Dame Stadium beginning one hour prior to kickoff. I suggest joining their ranks and following them all the way to the stadium so you can help fill the seats and show your support during warmups.
Coming Together as One
This might be the most overlooked and underrated aspect of the rivalry.
Notre Dame is not known as a hostile environment for opposing teams, but I have seen it get quite raucous whenever the Trojans come to town. The most intimidating stadiums are the ones that come together as one.
My suggestion: Rise as one voice, stand, cheer, and wear green. Color cohesiveness goes a long way, and it’s really not that hard to pull off. Trust me, you look good in it.
Soaking it all in
Game day at Notre Dame is quite an experience, especially when it includes a night game against the Trojans.
As Spirit Commissioner of Alumni Hall, Jack Rooney spoke on behalf of all Notre Dame students when he said, "Since it's a night game, that just means we have more time to soak in all that is game day at Notre Dame. It means more time to tailgate, more time to catch up with friends before fall break, and more time to enjoy the game day atmosphere... and nothing compares to Notre Dame Stadium under the lights."
My suggestion: Take it from one of the many incredibly bright students at the university you love and make the most of the time you spend on campus this weekend.
Daniel Colt Collins was the Fighting Irish Leprechaun from 2008 to 2010. Fans can check out his new behind-the-scenes book "Life as the Notre Dame Leprechaun" at www.LeprechaunBook.com.