Notre Dame-USC: Game of the weekend

Associated Press Modified: November 24, 2012 at 3:45 pm •  Published: November 24, 2012
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No. 1 Notre Dame (11-0) at USC (7-4), 8 p.m. Saturday (ABC)

Line: Notre Dame by 7.

Series Record: Notre Dame leads 43-35-5.

WHAT'S AT STAKE

Notre Dame is on the brink of a trip to the BCS title game, needing only a win in the Coliseum to wrap up the spot. The Irish share one of college football's best intersectional rivalries with USC, which could only gain a measure of solace from a hugely disappointing season by ruining the Irish dream season.

KEY MATCHUP

USC WR Marqise Lee vs. Notre Dame CB Bennett Jackson. The Trojans will rely on their gifted skill-position players to take pressure off QB Max Wittek, and no defensive secondary all season has significantly slowed down Lee, who could improve his Biletnikoff Award hopes with one more monster game. Jackson is a converted receiver who will be tested all night.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Notre Dame: LB Manti Te'o. It's only fitting for the imposing middle linebacker to play his final regular-season game at the Coliseum. He came agonizingly close to choosing USC out of high school before flipping to Notre Dame, where he suffered through early disappointments before finally having a season worthy of his faith in the Irish.

USC: Wittek. The redshirt freshman makes his first career start in place of injured Matt Barkley, and his teammates are confident he'll excel. Wittek is bigger and throws harder than Barkley, with zip on his passes that hurts Lee's hands, but he has played only mop-up duty all season long.