Southern Cal comes to South Bend this weekend riding a seven-game winning streak against Notre Dame. It won’t end anytime soon. It’s too bad, really; the campus has chalk all over it saying “Beat SC” or some variation, tons of recruits are coming in and some people seem to think this is the year. But despite how it looked against Washington, USC will still beat Notre Dame. Doesn’t matter how loud the students are or what they wear.
The nice thing is, Charlie Weis understands how difficult this game will be and has his head in the right place about it.
“We know the challenge we have to face, we’re not oblivious to that fact,” Weis said. “We’re going to give it a fair go.”
Biggest news of the day: Michael Floyd may be on track to return sooner than expected. Weis said he will be in practice today and sometime before the Pittsburgh game, he will have a scan to determine whether or not he can return.
Jimmy Clausen, Armando Allen and James Aldridge are all “gos” according to Weis.
This is a huge recruiting weekend for Notre Dame. No fewer than 15 recruits are currently scheduled to make the trip to campus
“This is a very active week for us obviously, because we’re playing against one of the best teams in the country and we’ve got a ton of recruits coming in both officially and unofficially,” Weis said. “When these kids come in during their academic year, they want to come in for a big game, and what bigger game is there as far as buzz than this one?”
No. 1 recruit Seantrel Henderson, an offensive tackle from Cretin-Durham Hall High in Saint Paul, Minn., will make the trip.
Weis said more players than in the past believe the Irish have a shot at winning this game, but that winning required more than that.
“It’s easy to get up for a game against USC. I think that we’re doing a number of things in the last two weeks,” Weis said. “You can get them to a fever pitch, you still have to go and play against USC on Saturday.”
Weis also addressed questions regarding Jimmy Clausen’s Heisman hopes. Clausen at this point, has completed 67 percent of his passes for 1,544 yards and 12 touchdowns with only two interceptions. He’s done half of this without Michael Floyd. His quarterback rating is 179.3 and he averages 308 yards per game. But to Weis, it was about the team’s success, not Jimmy.
“I think that if Jimmy were to ever win that award it would mean that we’ve won a lot of games,” he said. “Because if we did not win a lot of games he would not be in the hunt. If we don’t win a lot of games no matter how good his stats are I don’t think it would do him any good.”
He also said USC quarterback Matt Barkley’s success had to do, in part, with the players around him.
“I think that Jimmy wasn’t around as good a supporting cast. That might be the biggest understatement I might ever say but I’m trying to be politically correct,” he said. “Matt’s playing behind a seasoned offensive line with good skill people but he’s not just managing the game. He’s making plays too.”
Now on to some USC notes:
Joe McKnight has emerged as the leading rusher for the Trojans. He’s averaging 94.8 yards per game and has six touchdowns.
Weis showed great respect for fullback Stanley Havili, who is second behind Damian Williams in receptions (13 for 188 yards).
Speaking of Williams, he’s got 24 catches for 359 yards and a touchdown. Ronald Johnson, who broke his collarbone before the season, is expected to come back this week. Along with David Ausberry and Brice Butler, the Irish secondary will have its hands full.
The offensive line, led by center Kris O’Dowd, has allowed the Trojans to rush for 5.5 yards per carry and allowed only six sacks all season. The Trojans have 21 sacks.
The USC defense is absurd. The Trojans allow 8.6 points per game and 64.8 yards per game on the ground. No team has thrown for a touchdown yet this season. They’ve allowed only 173.8 yards per game passing.
Chris Galippo and Taylor Mays lead the defense in tackles with 32 and 28 respectively. They both have an interception. Defensive end Nick Perry leads the team with six sacks and defensive end Everson Griffen has four.
On Wednesday, make sure to check ndsmcobserver.com/podcasts for the latest Irish Insider podcast. Myself, Matt Gamber, Michael Bryan and Sam Werner preview the USC game this weekend.
Also, make sure to check out The Daily Tailgate, a sports Web site that keeps you in touch with the latest sports news. They recently did an interview with former Notre Dame tight end Anthony Fasano, who now plays for the Miami Dolphins, which can be found here:
They are also running a BCS challenge, where you pick the top 15 teams in the country and have a chance to win $100,000. For more information, check out http://www.dailytailgate.com.
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