Scouting Notre Dame

Mark L. Baer-US PRESSWIRE

Manti Te'o (pictured above) leads a Notre Dame defense that ranks first nationally in scoring defense.

USC (7-4, 5-4) hosts No. 1 Notre Dame (11-0), a spot in the BCS title game on the line for the Fighting Irish.

Let's take a look a closer look at the matchup.

LAST YEAR

The Trojans jumped out to an early 17-0 lead, though the Fighting Irish cut the deficit to a single score by halftime at 17-10. Late in the third quarter, with Notre Dame at the USC 1-yard line about to tie the game, safety Jawanza Starling recovered a botched snap and returned it 80 yards for a touchdown, pushing the lead to 24-10. USC would go on to win 31-17, notching its ninth win the last 10 meetings against the Fighting Irish.

LAST WEEK

Then-No. 3 Notre Dame cruised to a 38-0 victory over Wake Forest, behind quarterback Everett Golson's 346 passing yards and three touchdowns, while the defense limited the Demon Deacons to just 209 total yards of offense. Then-No. 1 Kansas State and then-No. 2 Oregon both fell, thus the Fighting Irish moved up to the top spot in the nation.

OFFENSE

Notre Dame averages just 27.2 points per game (74th in the nation) and under 420 yards of total offense per contest (50th). The Fighting Irish have topped at least 40 points just twice this year, while scoring just 20 points or less in five.

DEFENSE

The Fighting Irish boast the nation's top scoring defense (10.1 points per game), rank fifth in rushing defense (92.18 yards per game) and sixth in total defense (287.4). They have held six opponents to 10 points or less, and nine opponents to two scores or less. Notre Dame ranks 12th nationally in sacks (31) and 20th in interceptions (14).

PLAYERS TO WATCH

LB Manti Te'o: The senior, a Heisman candidate, lead the team in tackles (98), interceptions (6) and recovered fumbles (2). He also has recorded 5.5 tackles for loss (TFL) and 1.5 sacks.

DE Stephon Tuitt: A sophomore, Tuitt ranks first on the team in sacks (12), TFL (13) and forced fumbles (3).

QB Everett Golson: Just a redshirt freshman, Golson has thrown for 1918 yards and 11 touchdowns, while rushing for 258 yards and five scores.

RBs Cierre Wood and Theo Riddick: Both seniors, Wood has recorded 720 rushing yards and four touchdowns, while Riddick has 1065 yards from scrimmage, along with five total scores.

TE Tyler Eifert: A 2011 All-American, Eifert has 40 receptions for 555 yards and four scores.

Kickoff is scheduled for 5 p.m. and the game will be televised on ABC.

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