Countdown to Notre Dame at USC: A Week 2 referendum

Cody Kessler (6) is expected to fight through a toe injury to lead USC against Stanford.  (USATSI)
Cody Kessler (6) is expected to fight through a toe injury to lead USC against Stanford. (USATSI)

The 86th meeting between USC and Notre Dame will take place November 29. (ND leads the series, 45-35-5, and has won the last two meetings). As the two programs progress toward rivalry week, we'll take a weekly look at current trends, and the current state of hostilities, between the Trojans and the Fighting Irish.

Days until game: 88

2014 Notre Dame-USC power index: 1. USC (1-0) 2. Notre Dame (1-0)

Last week: Notre Dame defeated Rice (48-17); USC defeated Fresno State (52-13)

Notre Dame this week: vs. Michigan, Saturday, 3:30 (Notre Dame -4 1/2)

USC this week: at Stanford, Saturday, 3:30 (Stanford -2 1/2)

Notre Dame storyline: Irish fans will suppress their various other reserves of hatred to focus this week on despising Michigan, in a series that people hilariously think is about to permanently end, but seems fated to be picked up in a mid-level December bowl game at some point in the near future. Remember Catholics vs. Convicts in the Sun Bowl? (Of course you do, it was on CBS.)    

USC storyline: If USC could rock Fresno State on a week when all kinds of nonsense was going on, Trojans fans are understandably curious whether they can extrapolate that to mean they're safe to utter the words "we're back." A win at defending Pac-12 champion Stanford would elicit such words. Quarterback Cody Kessler underwent a minor toe procedure on Tuesday, but is expected to be fine for Saturday.  

Moment in hatestory: November 28, 1992

Larry Smith is the favorite USC coach of all time for many Notre Dame fans, since he was a robust 0-6 against the Fighting Irish, including a 31-23 loss in this, his final meeting against ND. This defeat -- sandwiched between a loss to UCLA and a 24-7 loss to Fresno State in the Freedom Bowl -- was a major piece of the puzzle that led to Smith's forced resignation about a month after this meeting. The next season, John Robinson reassumed the reins of the program he'd helped build to prominence. Enjoy some highlights of the '92 game, with Smith resplendent in fashionable white sweater. 

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