Five Storylines: Notre Dame-USC 

November, 22, 2012
1. Max Wittek: Talk about your tough beginnings, try getting your first start at quarterback on national television against the top-ranked team in the country. Welcome to the reality for USC's Wittek, a strong-armed redshirt freshman who will step in for the injured Matt Barkley against the Fighting Irish. Wittek knows how to follow Barkley -- he replaced him as the starter at Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei -- and he doesn’t seem phased at all by the opportunity, he went on ESPN Radio early this week and said, “we’re going to win this ballgame.”

2. Irish going for the title: It’s a bit of a role reversal from the preseason projections, as the Trojans were hoping to be the ones going for a national title. Instead, it’s the Irish who roll into town unbeaten and ranked No. 1. USC can point to six previous victories over undefeated Notre Dame teams as motivation, including twice when the Irish were ranked at the top of the polls. Only one of those games featured an unranked USC team, 1964, and the Irish left the Coliseum that day with a loss after Craig Fertig hit Rod Sherman on 84-Z Delay for a late toucdown.

3. USC offense vs Notre Dame defense: It remains to be seen how the presence of Wittek impacts the USC offense, as he has only attempted nine passes this season. The Notre Dame defense is one of the best in college football, led that a strong front seven that features linebacker Manti Te'o, a name that is all too familiar to USC fans. The Irish are ranked first in the nation in scoring defense (10.1 points per game), fifth in rush defense (92.2 yards per game) and sixth in total defense (287.8 yards per game).