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Shoulder injury knocks Matt Barkley out for Saturday

Nov 19, 2012, 11:54 AM EST

USC v UCLA Getty Images

Perhaps Irish fans shouldn’t be too heartbroken about losing out on Anthony Barr. Once a highly touted prep prospect looking at Notre Dame, the son of former Irish great Tony Brooks seemed destined to follow his dad’s footsteps, but decided to play closer to home, committing to Rick Neuheisel and UCLA, where he spent his first two seasons as a jack-of-all-trades offensive player for the Bruins.

But on Saturday afternoon, Barr, now a first-year star linebacker with 12 sacks and 18 TFLs,  made a mighty impact on the Irish season when his nasty blindside sack of Matt Barkley sent USC’s senior quarterback hard into the ground, with Barkley suffering a shoulder sprain that will keep him on the sidelines for this weekend’s battle for the jeweled shillelagh.

“He has an AC sprain and will be out this week,” Lane Kiffin confirmed Sunday. “It’s very unfortunate for his career, you know, now that two times in a row Notre Dame has come into the Coliseum — he’s gone to South Bend twice and won — and now twice he won’t be able to play them at home. I feel very bad for him and his family. Obviously this is not the way that anybody pictured the team’s season going, or his season going.”

In 2010, another Barkley injured forced former five-star prospect Mitch Mustain into action, and Harrison Smith intercepted a late Mustain throw to ice the Irish’s 20-16 victory. (After an assist from former Trojan WR Ronald Johnson.) Now it’ll be another former five-star prospect, redshirt freshman Max Wittek, who will get the call for the reeling Trojans, now 7-4 and unranked after starting the season as the No. 1 team in the country.

“Max will start. We have great confidence in Max,” Kiffin said. “I thought he did well yesterday in a very difficult situation — three-and-a-half hours of standing around and in the rain — and to go into that game isn’t easy to do. I thought he did a good job.”

Wittek has only seen spot duty this season, mopping up in blow-out victories against Hawaii and Colorado before coming in late against UCLA. On Saturday, Wittek was three of three passing for 40 yards, and he’s completed 8 of his 9 throws on the year.

Still, Barkley’s injury is a huge break for the Irish, where the stars have been aligning above South Bend for a berth in the national championship game. In Barkley’s two starts against the Irish he’s killed them, throwing for 380 yards and two touchdowns on just 19 completions in 2009 as a true freshman, before completing 24 of 35 passes for 224 yards and three touchdowns last year in the Trojan’s 31-17 victory.

In a senior season where Barkley decided to come back to cement his legend and potentially win a Heisman Trophy and a national championship, it’s been a nightmarish season for the Trojans’ captain, with his completion percentage down almost six points from his junior season and his 15 interceptions more than he threw as a true freshman.

  1. sbhooridas - Nov 19, 2012 at 12:08 PM

    Shoulder injury or not, Saturday’s game, IMO, was going to be more about Curtis McNeal/Silas Redd than Barkley or Wittek anyway. McNeal had a monster game (161 yds losing effort, of course, but Kiffin stopped trying to run) vs UCLA, and his tough running style was a big reason SC came into ND’s house and won last year. He and Tyler both averaged ~5 yards per carry, which allowed Barkley to do alot of play action (Shembo just jumped in the air again on a Barkley pump-fake). Stopping him on 1st and 2nd down will be key, Barkley’s struggles come when defenses know he’s going to throw.
    Yes, I know this years team is different, and I fully expect ND to rise to the challenge. Simply referring to those who may want to get overconfident in light of Barkley not playing.

    • tedlinko - Nov 19, 2012 at 1:32 PM

      I for one am certainly not overconfident. Barkley or no Barkley, this is still SC and, lets face it, they are like a wounded animal right now. When this season started, they figured that this game would just be the last stop on the road to the National Championship game (for them, of course). But now, it basically is their last chance to salvage something from what has been a disasterous season by their standards. And knocking ND off of #1 and out of the NC game will be all the motivation they need to fight for 60 minutes.

      I fully expect ND to be up to the task — but it’s going to be a war.

      GO IRISH!!!

      • sbhooridas - Nov 19, 2012 at 2:32 PM

        Ted,

        Good points, but I don’t see many people talking about ND’s motivation for this game, other than it’s simply a chance to play for the title:

        1) Gallippo and Barkley saying Notre Dame quit in the game? That’s something to get fired up about.

        2) Kelly saying “for the first time, I had to be hard on my guys” because “when the games count, championship teams raise their level of play”. Remember “my guys”-gate? ND has their own redemption story to write: this is the moment. Do you rise up to meet it?

        3) How about for Kelly? Remember the media talking about how the pasty gangsta (Lane Kiffin) out-coached him and his staff? He’s got a little something to coach for as well.

        Will we hear these things talked about? In public? Of course not. In private? Man, I hope these things are being thrown around as a way to get fired up. If you’re truly taking a “one game at a time” approach, this is all the motivation ND will need for this game.

      • tedlinko - Nov 19, 2012 at 2:57 PM

        @sbhooridas
        Don’t misunderstand. I fully recognize what’s at stake for ND, and I haven’t the slightest doubt they do too. This team — especially the senior class — has gone through a lot to get here and I don’t expect them to let it be ripped away. I’m just cautious when it comes to getting overconfident. Perhaps just a lesson from years of heartbreak since the last national title back when I was a Junior.

        I’ve been reluctant to invoke this all year but the season certainly is setting up nicely, especially from the perspective of those who understand the significance of “Year 3″ in Irish coaching lore.

      • irish4006 - Nov 19, 2012 at 3:13 PM

        sbhooridas, these are the kind of fluff that get teams into trouble. If you need extra boost to get you up and going and playing in ND uniform is not enough, you probably shouldn’t play football.

        It’s just another game, just another opponent. We should prepare during the week and play to win on Saturday, just like we should play to win any other game. Who said what, how to make them pay for what they said, yada yada, I sure hope the coaching staff is not focused on all these stupid things.

      • sbhooridas - Nov 19, 2012 at 4:38 PM

        Ted,

        Your points are well taken. didn’t mean to imply you were overlooking that possibility.

        Irish4006,
        I’m not saying its the only reason for ND to get up for the game. You are correct, there’s enough to get fired up about as it is. I’m simply saying that things like this provide that extra bit of focus on the task at hand.

        I’ve got friends who played in Iron Bowls and UGA/GT rivalry games. Trust me, they loved having a little bit of billboard material to add fuel to the fire. Will what I said be the reason ND wins? Probably not, but in these games, every little bit helps, and plenty of coaches would use “quitters” to their advantage privately, while not acknowledging it publicly….

        Good back and forth, folks! Thumbs up to both of you

      • irish4006 - Nov 19, 2012 at 7:26 PM

        Well, I know that Charlie used these questionable motivational tactic a lot and I can see where it took us.

        People do get fired up over rivalry games, but a great team (after they have gone through the progression of good to great) should take care of business without getting emotional; a little bit like the seniors took care of business on Senior Day.

    • ndgiants11 - Nov 19, 2012 at 4:50 PM

      @sbhooridas

      Great point about the running game. While Lee and Woods terrify me, all I can remember about last years game was Notre Dame’s line getting pushed around on both offense and defense. I know it’s a different year, but the numbers from last year’s game are staggering:

      USC Rushing:
      Attemps – 44
      Yards – 219
      Avg. – 5.0
      TOP – 39:41

      Notre Dame:
      Attempts – 14
      Yards – 41
      Avg. – 2.9
      TOP – 20:19

  2. keelio19 - Nov 19, 2012 at 12:33 PM

    Barkley came back to a team with very little depth on the o-line and he is out this weekend as a result. I am not overly concerned with the running game USC has brought forth this season. USC’s running game is as flawed as Oregon’s fast paced high powered offense when it’s faced against a powerful defense like the Irish have. Predictions have already come forth that USC is and or was favored against the Irish with or without Barkley in the lineup. Look, we have heard this all year, first it was we wouldn’t be able to stop the Spartans running attack; STUFFED. Next Denard was going to pull off a late game winner: STUFFED, Miami was too fast and too dynamic for our untested defensive secondary: STUFFED, Stanford had too good of a defense and Taylor was going to dominate: STUFFED (at the goal line) OKLA and Jones were again ‘Too fast and too dynamic, The BellDozer was going to score 3 rushing TD’s; STUFFED. On and on it goes and we just keep stuffing them. We’ve got something very similar lined up for Max, we’ll let him nickel and dime it down the field and kick Fg’s all day long, he’s bound to make a freshmen mistake from his whopping 9 throws this season. I’m not saying a redshirt frosh can’t make it happen, look at Golson. But it’s night and day with what Golson showed in the Navy game to the WF game, I don’t see Max gaining that type of experience in a week. Oh, and we’re playing at USC, we’re lights out in away games!

  3. andy44teg - Nov 19, 2012 at 12:51 PM

    Off the subject a little bit here, but how do you think Silas Redd is feeling right about now. He could’ve stuck around PSU and had a pretty decent senior year there (considerring), but instead, chose to take the easy path and transfer to USCum and go for the National Championship with Lame Kitten.

    • palestinianterrorist - Nov 19, 2012 at 1:03 PM

      i’m thinking he feels pretty stoopid. i foregot he’s a senior. not a great move.

      i think the entire world overrates some teams in all sports like the yankees, celtics, lakers and usc. they are highly penalized and out of fucking control, and have lost 4 goddamn games. we will crush them 27-13

    • jerseyshorendfan1 - Nov 19, 2012 at 2:32 PM

      You couldn’t have paid me enough to stay at PSU if I were him. What was he supposed to do, not have a chance to compete for the Title or to play in a bowl game or showcase his abilities for the NFL just because some weirdo couldn’t keep his pecker in his pants around little boys?

      • andy44teg - Nov 19, 2012 at 5:19 PM

        I’m not saying he shouldn’t have transferred either…I’m just posing the question: does he regret transferring now, looking back on everything that’s happened this season. I know hindsight is 20/20, and the situation at PSU was/is abominable, but he passed on a lot of family, friends, classmates and memories just for 6 months of an unforeseen football season on the opposite side of the country.

  4. irishinmich - Nov 19, 2012 at 12:53 PM

    My confidence was pretty high with, or without Barkley playing. If my quick math serves me, ND has out scored opponents 165-38 in road/neutral site games. Not to count chickens, but those crooked numbers give me faith for January too. It all just feels like gravy to me now. What an amazing season! Time to get greedy though……..let’s finish this dream season out in style.

    • dudeacow - Nov 19, 2012 at 1:58 PM

      USC traveled to UCLA (well, more like walked down the road) and let UCLA score 38 points. We’ve allowed 38 points total in road/neutral sites. Advantage Irish.

  5. bostonjan - Nov 19, 2012 at 12:53 PM

    Time to “STUFF” the real turkeys…bring on the Trojans!

    P.S. Thank you Mr Barr – the recruiting class that keeps on giving……

  6. c4evr - Nov 19, 2012 at 12:58 PM

    Any word on whether Kiffin will show up for the game?? Just heard there’s an opening in Knoxville – maybe he could get his old apartment back : )

    • c4evr - Nov 19, 2012 at 12:59 PM

      On second thought, hope Haden decides to keep Blame Kiffin so he keeps his poaching hands off Diaco…

  7. jimbasil - Nov 19, 2012 at 1:06 PM

    I don’t trust Kiffin. I think we see Barkley. Could be wrong.

    However, Barkley being absent from this game doesn’t stop me from thinking ND is being set up. There was a sports pundit a few weeks ago who pointed out an ugly game by one of the deeper talented teams saying the missed tackles with inexplicable play by the talented team felt odd almost as if they threw the game.

    Watching the USC v UCLA game it felt exactly the same. Inexplicable missed tackles and scratch yer head offensive plays, missed blocks – makes me wonder. – USC has given up – there might be some bad blood on this team – something is going on because that is not a team with talent (the way they played) or it is a willful and deliberate state they are in. Even if they came is as FR they dont’ make the mistakes they were making v UCLA.

    Sumptin’s up and it doesn’t portend good things as USC.

    Go ND

    and put a hurtin’ on Troy, break their will if they have any left.

    • joeymagarac - Nov 19, 2012 at 1:32 PM

      Agreed. This is a program that, this year alone, used an unscrupulous jersey switch and also used underinflated footballs in attempts to gain an edge. USC historically does not provide much injury information, so the fact that they are doing so here is interesting.

      Saw elsewhere that per BK, ND is preparing as if Barkley will in fact play. That’s smart, though also more or less required (there is film on him and not much on his putative replacement).

      • jimbasil - Nov 19, 2012 at 1:41 PM

        Exactly. The injury declaration is curious.

        This kid Wittek has a decent arm and can scramble (per his HS Junior clips). Pocket passer who appears to be fairly accurate. I’m thinking Kiffin will employ some reverses with Lee and Wood/RB keeping ND more honest. I expect a RB throw and other quasi trick plays.

        When ND scores (I assume they will several times) Brindza must kick it out of the stadium. And for punts, ND needs to flip the field to their advantage. A short field for Wood and Lee is certain scores. And I’m hoping for some Punt returns in this game by ND.

      • drdannddad - Nov 19, 2012 at 5:03 PM

        BK made the preparation comments on Mike and Mike this morning. I think they have to prep as if he will play. Barkley or no Barkley, they will want to get the ball into their playmakers’ hands early and often.

    • jimbasil - Nov 19, 2012 at 1:34 PM

      To the thumbs down: Not saying the game was bought, rather I get what the pundit was saying. If you watch the USC v UCLA game you will either notice USC’s curious missed tackles and blocks saying, “how did he miss that tackle” or you will be saying, “this isn’t a very talented USC team”. The latter isn’t true so there is something going on at USC and it doesn’t portend good things for them.

      On the flip side. This can only mean good things for the Irish come Saturday.

      (never trusting Kiffin) they have 17 verbal recruits where 4 of them are listed as “soft verbal” commits where once those commits were solid commits.

      The outward signs of Troy having problems is far more than the sanctions they’ve endured.

      That being said, I still don’t trust Kiffin.

      • notredameirish1980 - Nov 19, 2012 at 3:35 PM

        I believe that you are seeing something sinister (where did he go?) where there is nothing more than a fundamentally flawed team with poor discipline. What you saw against UCLA has been a chronic pattern for USC this year. They have a zero turnover margin for the year, are one of the most penalized teams in the NCAA this year, have a large number of personal fouls, and have numerous missed tackles every game. They have tons of talent but lack depth and discipline. Conditioning has also been a problem.

    • ndrocks2 - Nov 19, 2012 at 1:55 PM

      Agreed, no pregame speech will bring the team and crowd together like Barkley taking the field it will bring down the house and without a doubt you cannot rule it out especially with Kiffin’s questionable ethics.

    • papadec - Nov 19, 2012 at 1:58 PM

      jim – I don’t trust Kiffin either. But, I don’t think he would throw away the PAC-12 South Championship, and possible trip to the Rose Bowl – just to setup ND. Too much money involved, and ucla is the bigger rival.

      • jimbasil - Nov 19, 2012 at 2:04 PM

        No, I don’t either, that’s why this game vs UCLA is curious. I will agree UCLA played with passion where USC did not, but if you can’t get up for your cross town rivals, what will you get up for?

        That said, was Kiffen working on ND game all week thinking he had UCLA in the bag upon reflection of last years 50 point beat down of the Bruins?

        It could be, I’m reading too much into the UCLA game (It’s a past time of mine LOL) and USC really does suck as a team.

      • 9irish - Nov 19, 2012 at 2:19 PM

        There is something kind of shifty there, isn’t it? I don’t know, I had a sprained shoulder one time, I couldn’t even turn a key. So he might be hurt enough to where they’re just admitting it.

  8. ndgiants11 - Nov 19, 2012 at 1:23 PM

    As an Irish fan how can you not love the irony of this game?

    1) USC came into the season as the number one team in the country and had their eyes on a national title – now they’re unranked going into the season finale. On the other hand, the Irish have soared to number one and need one more win to go to the title game.
    2) Barkley and Te’o both return for be senior seasons. Barkley went from heisman hopeful to not even being in the discussion while Te’o has had a magical season and should get an invite to NY.

  9. jerseyshorendfan1 - Nov 19, 2012 at 1:41 PM

    Rumor has it that Barkley was the one who stole Shembo’s bike seat. He’s probably afraid to face our D. Also, note to the refs: check the balls please.

    @jimbasil…..I hope the Trojans have given up on the year but we should still stomp them into the field regardless of their attitude and just for the sake of doing it.

    GO IRISH beat the Condoms!!!

    • jimbasil - Nov 19, 2012 at 1:50 PM

      I C, your condom joke is ribbed. :)

    • 9irish - Nov 19, 2012 at 2:31 PM

      already got the Spartans, just switching brands

  10. 9irish - Nov 19, 2012 at 1:52 PM

    I was thinking, although Notre Dame means so much to me, the biggest reason I want these next 2 games is just to prove that doing things the right way and the hard way really does pay off in the end.

    Go Irish

    • drdannddad - Nov 19, 2012 at 5:14 PM

      Agreed! During halftime, they showed an ND PSA called “Fighting to Develop Great Leaders.” It’s up on YouTube now, and is really touching. Another great example of what makes ND special. Also, graduating 99% of our athletes is another great example. Oklahoma, by contrast, graduates 37% of their football players. It gets so tiring to hear people say that ND can’t “do it right” and compete for championships. This season is proof that it can be done, and very few do it better than ND.

  11. glorygreyhound - Nov 19, 2012 at 2:02 PM

    Kiffin said Wittek may start, but it doesn’t mean Barkley won’t play. Either way Kelly will have the team ready. Go Irish!

  12. newmexicoirish - Nov 19, 2012 at 2:30 PM

    newmexicoirish – Nov. 19, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    Just finished watching Dari numbnuts on ESPNU – and it is absolutlely killing him to give the Irish any credit. Before the season started his position (along with a slew of other talking heads) were in favor of handing the crystal football to SC, and the heisman trophy to Barkley. As for the Irish – there was no way they could navigate their scheudle. My how that worm has turned.

    Having said that, there is a reason USC was ranked number one in the country in the pre season polls. They have very talented kids on that team. However, the Irish will go in very focused and very determined. The senior leaders on this particular team won’t allow otherwise.

    GO IRISH!! Spank Troy.

    • 9irish - Nov 19, 2012 at 2:34 PM

      How that clown gets to sit and talk on his stool (no pun intended) at length about college football is beyond me.

  13. newmexicoirish - Nov 19, 2012 at 2:54 PM

    9irish,

    Exactly my thoughts. How a guy who can be as consistantly wrong week in and week out as he is, and still remain on national T.V. is a mystery. Again, if it were up to him, he would have given the Heisman Trophy to South Carolina’s quarterback a month and half ago. WRONG again Dari!

    What else I find interesting is now that Oregon and K-State have lost, Kenyon Barner, and Calvin Klein can’t seriously be considered for the Hiesman, but there is absoutely no talk about Manti Teo taking over as the top consideration (Johnny Football not withstanding).

    • 9irish - Nov 19, 2012 at 3:01 PM

      Yep. Just like press in general, giving the wrong information (opinion), the retraction/error is on the back page. They do know alot of info, but it’s still just guessing. I think Herbstreit is the most honest, straightforward one. This Notre Dame stuff is making alot of pontificators look like idiots….and I’m lovin it!

    • irish4006 - Nov 19, 2012 at 3:22 PM

      If we beat USC this weekend, the Heisman is in the bag for Te’o. Johnny football hasn’t played enough noteworthy football (he was Johnny turnover in the losses) to justify winning it. Beating an overrated Bama that has been riding its reputation all year should never be enough.

  14. aceinthehole12 - Nov 19, 2012 at 2:59 PM

    ND haters are already using the “yeah a Barkley-less USC” excuses already. Shame people can’t put their hate aside and enjoy what our boys are doing !

    Go Irish !

  15. twebb2 - Nov 19, 2012 at 3:12 PM

    Barkley out? This Irish fan doesn’t care. Strap on your helmets and get down to business. This is still USC and they have talent, even though it may be diluted by scholarship restrictions and injuries. I DON’T want Lane Kiffin to get the last laugh on this wonderful Irish season. Hit ‘em hard, Irish!

  16. halfwhitey - Nov 19, 2012 at 3:13 PM

    Does anyone else think Lane Kiffin might have watched the episode of Coach where Hayden Fox wins the championship for Minnesota State by keeping his best player on the sideline with a fake injury until the end of the game as a genius sneak attack?

    If you had to pick one real-life coach who might think such a plan was not ridiculously stupid, it would be Kiffin, right?

    • 9irish - Nov 19, 2012 at 3:32 PM

      That is a very good, old reference to a good show. And Kiffin is the type of guy that I would not leave alone with my girlfriend, and I would watch my wallet, sunglasses, and keys if I were around him.
      And I’m not saying that to be mean, that is honestly the perception that he gives. I would be surprised if Mr. Haden doesn’t can him. Talk about polar opposites. One a Rhodes scholar, the other a Cali used-car salesman.

      • jerseyshorendfan1 - Nov 19, 2012 at 10:19 PM

        As my Dad used to say: After you shake his hand you’d better count your fingers.

  17. runners00 - Nov 19, 2012 at 3:25 PM

    I think the thing that the players should remember is that USC is a machine. The Trojans have talent at every position and they’re very deep. So, whether Barkley is the quarterback or not, USC is not going to roll over. This is a very strong program that has had a few bad breaks this season.

    One comment on the ND doubters: at the beginning of the year, I heard how tough our schedule is and we’d never be able to navitage it. Last night, on the BCS Countdown, Herbstreit was asked when he thought that ND could be in the mix. Now, this is after his work in the Michigan State game and some other games. He says, “Well, after the first five or six games, given how tough the opponents were, you could tell that Notre Dame had a shot. . . .” If that was the case, why did it take Herbstreit and the ESPN crew so long to vote ND #1 in the AP poll? I mean, is he saying schedule strength is less important than, say, Oregon’s margin of victory against cupcakes? It’s a tough nut to crack.

    The oddest part of this debate, I think, is how much it conflicts w/ college basketball analysis. To tell how good a college basketball team is in March, analysts often look to nonconference schedules and to see how a team did against a difficult schedule. In football, this year seems to be the opposite approach. How much did the team win by? That’s all anyone seems to care about.

    Fortunately, we control our destiny. If we come out unprepared and/or unwilling to passionately defend our ranking, they’ll beat us. If we come out prepared, and recognize/respect USC and expect a long and difficult fight, we’ll win the game. We’re a little bit better than they are right now, especially on defense, and that should be the difference in the game. Go Irish!

    • ndgoldandblue - Nov 19, 2012 at 4:02 PM

      I agree about your comment on the constant reloading of talent at USC, especially at the quarterback position. And I will admit that Wittek was a big-time recruit coming out of high school. But is it realistic to expect a redshirt freshman to make his first start against the number-one defense in the country after having hardly any game experience and then light it up?

      I don’t care how good you were in high school; that’s a bit of a tall task if you ask me. I think it’s more probable that Wittek plays shaky and makes some mistakes on Saturday than it is that he plays the game of his life. With everything at stake for this our defense, that’s what it’s going to take for Wittek to have success. Our defense is not going to come out the way they did against Pitt. I expect them to play fast and focused.

      Granted, Golson is a redshirt freshman like Wittek, but he has had 11 games to refine his craft. He’s a much better quarterback now than in the first couple games of the season. If we were in the same position as USC is now, I wouldn’t be very confident that Everett would have a good game. Plus, 8 for 9 with a touchdown against the garbage that Wittek faced is not the same as going up against Te’o and this Irish D.

      I’m not saying it’s going to be a cake walk, but those great wide receivers that USC has can’t torch us if the quarterback is inaccurate (the take on Wittek in high school) or makes dumb decisions. I say we rush four with an occasional blitz and take away the underneath stuff. No way Wittek doesn’t get happy feat and rush throws, which will take away the down-field threat. If that happens, it could be a long night for the Trojans. Just like the Oklahoma game, I can imagine Musberger saying, “Wittek just can’t figure out this Notre Dame defense.” Herbstreit comes back with “I don’t know, Brent. They just look…defeated. I think they’re ready to put this season behind them.”

      • ctfivula - Nov 19, 2012 at 4:35 PM

        Like what you’re saying on the comparison to Everett. I would not want him to make his first start against a defense like ND’s. But how about we get real cute on D and blitz the hell out him right away and take him out of his game from the start. I know it’s not going to happen but it would be awesome to just see Te’o, Shembo and Fox let loose on the first defensive play of the game.

    • joeymagarac - Nov 19, 2012 at 4:13 PM

      The Trojans have talent at every position and they’re very deep.

      They have talent at every position, but they’re not very deep. They were throughout the Pete Carroll years, but due to sanctions they had just 71 scholarship players available at the start of the season (out of a possible 85). Due to planned redshirts, they were expected to play only 62 scholarship athletes this year.

      • runners00 - Nov 19, 2012 at 5:56 PM

        They were preseason number one. I agree with you that scholarship limitations can be a pretty major barrier for a program. But they put up 50 points on Oregon (granted, that’s not a huge accomplishment but it’s significant).They can run the football and have done so at times during the season (including vs. UCLA on Saturday, where they averaged 6 yards/carry). They’re very talented.

        I’m with you guys, that asking a high school quarterback to come in and face the best defense in the country is a very tall order. The game will hinge on our offense. Can we move the football regularly against USC and can we take care of the ball? Other teams have obviously accomplished this. We should be able to do so, too. If we can, we win.

        I don’t see SC putting up 20 or 30 points on us w/ a backup QB who hasn’t really played this season. But if we do some dumb things — if we put it on the ground, if we throw interceptions against a defense that has speed but is quite vulnerable — we know what can happen. It’s USC. Even with scholarship limitations, they have a better team than Pittsburgh or Purdue.

        All of that said, we are playing better. I mean, if you look at this team as a whole and you compare it to September 15 or so, you see a much better group of guys who are confident and competent.

  18. ctfivula - Nov 19, 2012 at 3:46 PM

    USC has given up on Kiffin. If these guys show up on Saturday it will be for themselves not for there coach. I see the trojans coming out early with a bunch of gimmicks and getting an early cheap touch down but I think the Irish will be focused and stay the course just like every other game this year and grind it out until USC just gives up. They don’t have the horses on the o line to keep our guys off whoever the quarterback is for four quarters.

  19. newmexicoirish - Nov 19, 2012 at 4:03 PM

    If the Irish lay the wood to SC early and often (and they will) I just don’t see these guys being able to hang for four quarters. Additionally, I think once this Wittek kid looks into the eyes of Old Man Kappy, Sheldon Day, Stephon Tuitt, Prince Shembo, Manti Teo, Carlo Calabrese, Dan Fox, Big Lou, and Zeke Motta, his biggest decision is going to be whether he wears his jock inside or outside of his Depends!

  20. yogihilt - Nov 19, 2012 at 6:26 PM

    I’m reading all sorts of theories about this game,…. and Kiffin,….. the QB, …..they’re laying in wait for ND…… Hey, USC is a beat team. There are no smoke and mirrors. They’re deflated. They had to win the UCLA game to have a shot at a Pac title, so there was no look ahead to ND. They have lost 4 games, two to decent teams and two to good ones,….. that’s not good. They have a QB that’s out, and he will be out. They have a coach that is getting the dreaded ‘vote of confidence’. Their defense is very suspect, they have injuries all over and depleted roster. And maybe, just maybe, the USC brand is not what it used to be, just a lot of hype (see #1 ranking in August).
    Of course they’re going to give their best, but it is not the best. Control 2 HR threats at WR, limit turnovers and this should not be a game.
    Vegas opened the Irish as 4 pt favorites, ON THE ROAD, and big money jumped this all the way to 6… quite a jump in 1 day..and they already knew the QB was out.
    There are no boogeymen out there… USC is just a good college team.. nothing more. Do your job, control the emotion, handle the situation
    Go Irish

  21. c4evr - Nov 19, 2012 at 6:33 PM

    Heading to So Cal for the game Saturday and need some suggestions for signage during Game Day on ESPN. Was thinking: “Don’t count on Trojans for protection” – M. Barkely. Or maybe “Today, Kiffin gets the Full Manti.” Anybody with a good idea of something that will get some laughs at Troy’s expense.

  22. flandersst1 - Nov 19, 2012 at 6:35 PM

    Hey Guys,

    You’re all wrong. We’re going to take USC behind the woodshed. We all saw what happens when a redshirt freshmen plays against the #1 defense in the country in the L.A. Coliseum – remember Jimmy Clausen’s first start in the Coliseum? It wasn’t pretty.

    Same thing here. USC’s defense couldn’t stop 11 of us, and I haven’t played competitive football in over a decade and about 30 pounds ago :-).

    Notre Dame rolls 44-0. USC doesn’t cross mid-field until 4th quarter. Mike Golic Jr. gives interview after game and says, “Yeah they got tired of getting pushed around and pretty much gave up in the 4th quarter.”

    ND 5th year senior run out on field after game and plant Irish flag at midfield.

    ESPN announcers decry Notre Dame for “Classless Act” and naturally conclude that it should be an all SEC national championship game as penalty. BCS voters don’t care and ND is #1 overall.

  23. dermmite - Nov 19, 2012 at 6:51 PM

    I just want to enjoy this week leading up to the game. Thats all, nothing more nothing less.

  24. alsatiannd - Nov 20, 2012 at 12:34 AM

    Lane Kiffin pushes rope.

  25. nddan1 - Nov 20, 2012 at 7:10 PM

    all this chatter about barkley and kiffen with tricks up their sleeves…their going to need it. im not usually overconfident, but the irish are going to take the fight to them. they are ready for this fight and will win. it doesnt matter whos pulling the trigger for usc. its our time irish 31 usc 10

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