The tenth of 14 storylines as we approach the 2014 football season...
The greatest college football rivalry will be a little different this season. Former Trojan coordinator and assistant coach Steve Sarkisian returns to Los Angeles after a rebuilding stint at the University of Washington. We previewed USC not too long ago but the Irish won't suit up against the Men of Troy until the regular season finale so we've got a while until that game rolls around.
As we've seen from the Top 75 Losses series and ongoing Greatest Wins series there can be some monumental matchups in this rivalry, including some of the country's best games ever played. Time will tell if the 2014 version will have those kind of consequences, similar to the 2012 game in which USC had the opportunity to spoil a BCS National Title appearance for Notre Dame. Of course, the Trojans were unsuccessful. To the highlights!
Perhaps the game this fall won't tell us much right away about where the rivalry is headed. Sometimes a single game, particularly in a coach's first year (hello 2001 Pete Carroll losing to Bob Davie), can be deceiving. However, it is worth pointing out that the Irish have won 2 straight in the Coliseum in a rivalry that is known for long stretches of dominance by one side. Now is a good time to watch the 2010 highlights!
USC won 8 straight in the Willingham/Weis era. Holtz went 9-1-1 against the Trojans but Dan Devine just 1-5. Parseghian only beat the Trojans 3 times in 11 years but the Irish had 3 separate winning streaks of at least 4 straight games prior to 1960.
Does Kelly push his record against USC to 4-1 with an impressive 3 road victories after a win this year?
I'm naturally respectful of USC at nearly all times. Too much history. Too much talent. Too much of a record of big time players stepping up at key moments to deliver wins. Yes, we've reversed course and have had some big moments and key wins over the Trojans in recent years but I don't think it's any time to be getting too cocky about this rivalry.
I side with the folks who think USC should be pretty darn good this year. The loss of Lane Kiffin should do nothing but help the program in numerous ways. I'm not sure Steve Sarkisian is a rising star yet he might have the goods to make the Trojans a lot better, and quickly. Even if you don't think USC is all that right now then you have to admit they have massive sleeping giant potential. That's weird to say since they won 10 games last year, too.
It's a new era for USC with a familiar face back running the program. As Notre Dame fans we'll be watching the progress of the Trojans very closely. If they stay healthy they are capable of some big things under Sarkisian.