USC Trojans vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish: Brutally Honest Game Preview

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It’s not often that we pick a game with two unranked teams for BHGP. And other than September non-conference or bowl games, we don’t do the intersectional thing much either. But this is college football’s top inter-sectional rivalry: USC Trojans vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish.  Both are on the cusp of the AP top 25, so winner gets a national ranking.

USC has won 11 of the last 14. Notre Dame had an 11-game winning streak from 1983-1995.

This rivalry began in 1926, when Knute Rockne became the first Midwestern coach to take a team to the West Coast (Notre Dame won 13-12) and the teams have meet every season since (taking 1943-45 off due to travel restrictions during World War II).

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Notre Dame on Winning Streak; Still Lots of Issues for Brian Kelly

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When Notre Dame started 0-2, it seems like their BcS hopes were dead. They came into the season ranked #16, but the slow start in back-to-back losses to USF and the Michigan Wolverines had 2011 looking like a lost year.

And then all the talk about “what’s wrong with ND?” began. And the temperature readings on Coach Brian Kelly‘s hot seat skyrocketed.

But then a funny thing happened when they upset the nationally ranked Michigan State Spartans. Then they skated by at Pittsburgh; and then they crushed the Purdue Boilermakers and Air Force back to back. It’s a brand new season, but there are still some issues beneath the surface.

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Notre Dame Winning with 3 Cs: Confidence, Cohesion, Chemistry

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Given what was expected of Notre Dame this year, versus what they’ve produced, it’s time to talk about Fighting Irish leader Mike Brey as possible conference coach of the year. He has two Big East coaching awards already (’07, ’08), but this could be the best coaching job he’s ever done.

A so-called rebuilding year has turned into a 21-4, top ten nationally ranked season. ND has won its last seven Big East games, matching the second-longest Big East regular-season win streak in program history.

Their overtime win over #15 Louisville this past week conveyed all that has been going right for ND this year.

“The whole team brought a lot of confidence,” said star guard Ben Hansbrough.

“Especially when I had that rebound and I dropped it. It was great to see my guys will their way back into it and continue to fight.”

By Paul M. Banks

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Notre Dame Routs USF: Notes and Numbers

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Notre Dame is off to its best start in 30 years in men’s college basketball and gaining confidence with every victory. The eighth-ranked Fighting Irish too their seventh straight Saturday, routing runt of the Big East litter South Florida 78-55 with a balanced scoring attack led by Jack Cooley’s career-high 18 points.

The strong start is the program’s best since the 1980-81 season. The Irish can match their best-ever record through 14 conference games (11-3 in 2000-01) by winning at No. 25 West Virginia next Saturday.

For those of you unaware, Cooley is nicknamed “Baby Gody” because of the fact that he has the same haircut and looks a lot like the just departed Luke Harangody.

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Scott Martin a Key Addition to Notre Dame Resurgence

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In the offseason, the talk around the college basketball program in South Bend was all about personnel losses -most notably Tory Jackson and Luke Harangody- not new additions.

But today Notre Dame’s 21-4 record signifies the best 25-game start under head coach Mike Brey. It’s the first time the Irish have won at least 21 of their first 25 games since the 1980-81 campaign. Notre Dame’s 10-3 Big East record matches the best 13-game start in Big East play in program history. The Irish have secured their second straight 10-win Big East campaign and it’s the seventh time (in 11 seasons) under Brey that Notre Dame has notched at least 10 league victories.

A big reason is Scott Martin, a Purdue transfer who missed the last two seasons, one from NCAA mandated transfer protocol, and a second year from a knee injury. Martin is a 6-8 senior who sees most of his 27 minutes a game at guard.

By Paul M. Banks

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