USC vs Notre Dame Rivalry Completely Unique Due to Intersectionality


notre dame usc trojans

In the USC Trojans vs the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, you have a rivalry that doesn’t have the element of close proximity, and that makes it unlike any other in the world. Duke and North Carolina are separated by just ten miles on Tobacco Road.

Liverpool FC and Everton are separated by Stanley Park, which is just over a mile. This isn’t an in-state rivalry like Michigan State-Michigan or a border war like Michigan-Ohio State.

“They’re not up the street. They’re across the country,” said Notre Dame Coach Brian Kelly at his weekly news conference; ahead of the 91st edition of this series, which takes place Saturday night. 

notre dame usc trojans  

Notre Dame are double digit favorites at home according to almost every sports book. If you look at most free college football picks and predictions, you’ll the Fighting Irish priced at -11 with an over/under on the total points set at 57 1/2. Of course, this is a rivalry game where anything can happen and the “all bets are off” catch-phrase can certainly apply to what might go down in South Bend this weekend.

“Great players have played in it. Great coaches that have coached in it…it’s one of those rivalries that hasn’t gone away. It’s part of college football.”

Notre Dame and USC are separated by about 2,100 miles. It’s four and a half hours by air, 30 hours by car. It’s often called the greatest intersectional rivalry in all of college football has each school has won 11 national championships and seven Heisman Trophies. The game even makes a cameo in the legendary 1988 action-thriller “Die Hard.”

The Jeweled Shillelagh rivalry, which began in 1926, is an annual save the date affair.


“It’s one that our players really circle each year,” Kelly said on a media teleconference.   

“Each game that we play has a rivalry to it, whether it’s Navy or Stanford, or Michigan. We play a lot of rivalry type games.”

“USC is one that certainly always stands by itself, it has a great tradition to it. They knew this game was on the schedule, but they had to take care of business this past weekend (vs Bowling Green).

“They came in for a treatment today and all they could talk about was the opportunity to play USC.” 

This game is customarily played on the Saturday following Thanksgiving Day when it is staged in Los Angeles or on the third Saturday of October when it’s in South Bend. For our full game preview and prediction go here.

The 2012 game, in which the Irish were attempting to finish the regular season perfect drew higher ratings than the previous year’s Rose Bowl and Fiesta Bowl. It was the highest rated game of that regular season.

Kelly spoke of his first memories of the USC vs. Notre Dame rivalry while growing up in an Irish Catholic household in Massachusetts.

“John Robinson on the sidelines, and Ara Parseghian, and it would be from my perspective, just the pageantry of the game on tv, and growing up in Massachusetts, it was one of those games you wanted to watch on tv because it was played up.”

“Those two iconic figures and then Sam Bam Cunningham, and from a Notre Dame stand point- there are so many great players that played in the game that I could probably give you 20 of them.” 

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, the author of “No,  I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” regularly appears on WGN CLTV and co-hosts the “Let’s Get Weird, Sports” podcast on SB Nation

You can follow Banks, a former writer for NBC and Chicago on Twitter here and his cat on Instagram at this link.

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