Originally written on Subway Domer  |  Last updated 11/11/14
#1 Notre Dame (11-0) v. Southern Cal (7-4) The Coliseum - Los Angeles, CA - 7pm EST on ABC First Things - It's just like we were told all offseason: Notre Dame heads to Los Angeles for a game that features a senior Heisman candidate who turned down the riches of the NFL in favor of leading a team toward a possible National Championship berth. Just switch "USC" & "Matt Barkley" into the 9 month offseason declarations for "Notre Dame" & "Manti Te'o" and we find where perception has met reality. Neither USC or Barkley met any of their lofty preseason expectations and Notre Dame has put together 11 weeks of "How do you like me NOW?" performances that find the Irish with the #1 ranking in the BCS polls, the Human Polls, Scoring Defense Rankings & just for good measure the Irish lead the nation in graduating Student-Athletes. Please national media, tells us more about how these things can't be done in concert! Now the Irish can punctuate it all by sending Troy into some bowl you've never heard of and vaulting into a National Championship game that will feature 6+ weeks of a #1 ranked Irish team. Let's discuss This is all quite surreal if we're being honest. If I had predicted Notre Dame to be 11-0 and hold the #1 ranking in America AND for USC to be 7-4 during pre-season posts you'd have rightfully questioned my reality and blatant homerism as a blogger. The 2012 Fighting Irish team hasn't just turned the tide on national opinions. Irish fans have been witness to a change in program culture, attitude, resiliency and some fortuitous breaks that had gone away from them for many seasons. Maintaining dominance, even with an iconic coach, is extremely difficult and the signs of USC's unraveling were evident before significant sanctions crippled their current edition's depth. I was among many who expected them to stumble during 2012, but certainly didn't expect the Trojans to defeat only a single team with winning record and be unranked at any point. Here's to playing actual football games over handing out paper championships Listen to internet radio with TNNDN Network on Blog Talk Radio   Here's my defining theory about this game and it's a two part question: 1. If USC takes a 10 point lead in the third quarter - what do you expect the attitude of the Irish players & coaches to be? 2. If Notre Dame takes a 10 point lead in the third quarter - what do you expect the attitude of the Trojan players & coaches to be? My expectations are that the Irish, led by juniors, seniors and grad students who have sacrificed so much for Notre Dame during tumultuous, disappointing seasons, to continue to fight to the bitter end and never lose focus or intensity. USC, led by players who spent an entire offseason being told they couldn't be stopped and were the team to finally end the SEC dominance, will lay down and mail in the rest of their season. Notre Dame will never quit on this game. Getting USC to call it a day is going to be much less difficult. I can define their entire team and season by Matt Barkley's body language after throwing an interception on his first pass against UCLA last week. Barkley saw the Bruin player catch it and, along with most of his offensive line, made no attempt to go after the UCLA player and stop him from possibly returning the ball for a touchdown. USC does not know how to respond to adversity or even finish a game versus a quality opponent. I expect that trend to continue. Five Things To Watch Editor's Note: There is only ONE thing to watch. Notre Dame, whether they win by 1 point or 100, will play for a championship with a win. That's all that matters with Oregon, Kansas State, Florida State, Alabama, Georgia and Florida looking to cash in all their "style points" at the BCS Change Counter for a chance at the title. As the Irish have done all season - Get this win by ANY MEANS NECESSARY. 5. USC QB Max Wittek - After 11 weeks of dominance, it seems mildly absurd to believe Wittek, in his first career start, can move the ball effectively enough to win against this Irish defense. Insane numbers from over at One Foot Down - When Irish opponents have attempted a pass over 20 yards their combined stats are 7-41 with 4 interceptions & 1 TD. Wittek's receivers are good ... Bob Diaco's everything is going to be better. 4. Protecting Golson & Turnovers - The easiest path for USC to make this a game or pull an upset is to force turnovers. USC is #9 in America at sacking opponents with 34 on the season or 3 per game. They've also forced 29 turnovers in 11 games. With Golson's often tenuous grip on the football, the Trojans could make this a game by giving their freshman QB a short field or some free points. 3. Stopping Marqise Lee & Robert Woods - My friend BlogDavie detailed on this site how USC will most likely attempt to get the ball into their talented receivers hands on quick/short passing routes and depend on their play-making ability to break big plays. Both players are future pros who can turn 5 yard gains into 25 very quickly. That's not been the problem for Irish opponents. Opponents have been unable to finish drives and punch it in when reaching the Red Zone. Diaco may be willing to give Wittek, Lee & Woods the short game in favor of daring the group to come over the top or beat 3-5 Irish defenders for more yardage. 2. Maintaining The Balanced Offensive Attack - USC isn't elite in stopping the run (49th) or the pass (67th). The Trojans have lost 3 of their past 4 games and given up 46 points/game in those defeats. Notre Dame should feel comfortable attacking USC in all facets of the game and more importantly be pretty successful. 1. Te'o Will Be Given His Moment - Lane Kiffin is a cocky *********** if we ever saw one. Unlike Pitt, Boston College and Wake Forest, he'll spend little effort trying to game-plan his offensive attack around a single player. Expect USC to run right at Te'o and attempt the quick inside receiver screens that Te'o feasts on due to his elite recognition skills. Double digit tackles can be expected from an Irish player who has risen to the biggest moments at each turn in 2012. Predicting The Game & What We'll See Notre Dame is going to win this game. The Fighting Irish will take advantage of a lethargic bunch that won't punch back in the second half. Everett Golson doesn't need to be spectacular and I don't expect Brian Kelly to ask it of him. Cierre Wood and Theo Riddick will find plenty of holes to gash big plays while setting up Tyler Eifert, TJ Jones & Roby Toma for favorable defenses when running play-action. I do expect both offenses to be a little tight in the beginning of the game and won't be surprised if the 1st quarter ends at 0-0 or 3-0. The second quarter will highlight the disparity of mental and physical toughness between both teams. ND will take a small lead into the break and stretch it out early in the second half. An early 4th quarter score closes the deal and Irish fans will shut down the travel websites searching for flights to Miami. Notre Dame has the better "team". Notre Dame has the better coach. Notre Dame has players who want this win more. Notre Dame will not beat itself. Notre Dame will win this game. Go.Irish Game Vitals Notre Dame (-5) Over/Under (45.5) Herring Bone Says Take Notre Dame & The UNDER Final Score: Notre Dame 31-10
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Family searching for missing Ohio State football player

CM Punk opens up about leaving WWE, says he'll never return

Manny Pacquiao responds to Floyd Mayweather diss

Australian cricket player dies from head injuries

Wrigley Field bleacher renovation may be delayed

Yankees wanted Rollins but Phillies' price was too high

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Pop misses game for medical reasons; Messina takes over

John Beilein upset with ESPN for late start time to game

Tyson Chandler felt like Knicks' scapegoat at times

Fred Jackson has 'no respect' for Donte Whitner

Devon Still responds to unpaid child support allegations

Diamondbacks sign Cuban slugger Yasmany Tomas

Things to be thankful for in the NBA this season

Eric Berry sends out Thanksgiving message

WATCH: Ronda Rousey talks about Eminem referencing her

WATCH: Dwayne Harris dirty hit on Nolan Carroll sparks fight

Steelers turned down chance to be called 'America's Team'

Report: Small chance Raiders-Rams could be moved to Indy

Todd Gurley begins rehab after surgery on knee for torn ACL

Brodeur to practice with Blues

OSU player posts Michigan player's girlfriend as his 'WCW'

Jim Harbaugh's family may not eat turkey thanks to NBC

Ole Miss' The Grove threatened by Mississippi State fan

Is it time for the Redskins to move on from Robert Griffin III?

College Football News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

WATCH: Ronda Rousey talks Eminem

CM Punk opens up about leaving WWE

Wrigley renovation may be delayed

Steelers could have been America's Team

John Beilein upset with ESPN

Should Washington move on from RG3?

Dominic Raiola fined for cheap shots

Rose leaves with injury again

WATCH: Pierce signs for fan during game

Report: McCoy to start over RG3

Braxton Miller headed to Oregon?

Game of the week: Kansas City Chiefs vs. Denver Broncos

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.