SOUTH BEND, Ind. — If Notre Dame beats Southern California on Saturday, the Fighting Irish will accomplish two feats for the first time since Bob Davie was coach.
Yup, it’s been that long since the Irish posted consecutive victories over the Trojans, and beat them at home.
Notre Dame (4-2) has won two of the last three in the series, including last year’s 22-13 win at the Coliseum that clinched a spot in the BCS championship game. But the Irish lost a record eight straight to the Trojans (4-2) before the recent success, including five losses of 31 points.
The only close games during that stretch was a 34-31 loss in the “Bush Push” game of 2005 and a 34-27 defeat in 2009 when Jimmy Clausen threw three incomplete passes into the end zone in the closing seconds.
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said before last season’s game that it wasn’t a great rivalry because the Irish hadn’t won enough recently. He feels differently now.
“I think we’re past that,” he said. “We would hope that both programs are competing each and every year for BCS bowls and playoff opportunities, and I think that’s where both programs want to be. That they’re on equal footing, that you don’t have to wait three, four years to get a win.”
The last time USC had to wait more than a year for a win was when the Irish won three straight from 1999-2001 under Davie, with wins at Notre Dame Stadium in ’99 and ‘01. Kelly said Tuesday he didn’t know it had been that long, but said the Irish are focused on this year’s goals.
“We want to win every game that we play the rest of the season, and wherever that takes us at the end of the season, we’ll be excited about that,” he said.