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Notre Dame News and Notes 10/16

There are some interesting stories out there over the past few day that are putting a lot of pressure on Charlie Weis and Notre Dame to beat USC.

Moment of truth for Weis, Clausen - Wetzel

Notre Dame's aim: Win USC game to regain name - Dodd

Notre Dame and QB Jimmy Clausen must rise to occasion against sixth-ranked USC- Weiss

As you can see everyone in the press is tired of ND getting smacked around year in and year out...They want to see a competitive game.

As noted in our post below this could be the make or break game for Weis. Win and the pressure could be off. Lose and who knows...Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick says a loss to USC doesn't mean the sky is falling. He might want to talk to the boosters and fans who pump a lot of money into ND's kitty.

Heck, even the LA press thinks the USC-Notre Dame rivalry should be back to old form. I don't know about that, old form wold be the teams trading victories that are close games. We haven't seen that in a few years now.

Now finally, after seven years of lopsided USC drubbings, Saturday's game between the two teams in South Bend has a chance to be good. Meaningful. And, um, competitive.

How can you tell?

The team's 4-1 records and national rankings are a good start. But there's more to it. A tension, a testiness. Competitive juices flowing that only really get moving when there's a real competition on the field.

Last year at the Coliseum, the teams fought on the field before the game.

Afterward, defensive tackle Fili Moala said, "They thought they were hyped and they weren't as hyped as us.

"It started in the tunnel. They started talking and we were talking. We bit before they did and their bite wasn't hard."

Shelburne is reaching here with the whole tone of her piece. Yeah ND is 4-1...those wins came against teams with losing records and Notre Dame's one win was against a Michigan team that is 4-2. UM has their issues as well but they are still 4-2.

The fact remains that Clausen will face the toughest defense he will see this season. USC hopes to shut down Clausen like they have in the past. That means containing WR Golden Tate and TE Kyle Rudolf. That also means that USC has to get pressure on Clausen and the ND refuses to get ‘Manhandled' no more...We'll see.

Maybe they will maybe they won't but they will be in for the fight of their lives...

Regardless, Pete Carroll continues to keep focused on the task at hand...

"You have to have a really over-arching plan," Carroll said. "You need to have a plan to handle the challenge of the transition. You can't deviate from that plan.

"You have to approach the job with a vision so that you're not going to a mystery place. You have to know where you're going, accept the challenges and take it all in stride."

The Trojans do better than just take things in stride. They take things on a dead run.

They replace a Heisman Trophy winner (quarterback Carson Palmer, 2002) with a Heisman Trophy winner (Matt Leinart, 2004), and then the next year had a third Heisman Trophy winner (Reggie Bush) at running back.

With Carroll in charge, the Trojans have had 53 NFL draft picks, 14 in the first round. In that same period, Notre Dame has had 35 players selected, and two — center Jeff Faine and quarterback Brady Quinn — in the first round.

During Holtz's 11-year regime, the Irish had 75 players chosen in the NFL draft, 12 in the first round. Receiver/kick returner Tim Brown was the only Heisman winner.

Carroll said a diligence to the execution of the grand plan keeps the program on track.

Another part of that Plan is reloading the talent pool. Much has been made of Pete Carroll not being able to get back to MNC game with all the talent he has amassed. But look at ND Weis continues to draw big time recruits but he does verry little with them...I will address this more in another post.

It all comes down to the quarterbacks. Jimmy Clausen is finally living up to expectations (hype?) and even though he is just a true freshman Barkley acts like an old rookie.

Nobody on the Southern Cal campus takes Barkley for granted.

He's led the Trojans to four victories. Their only loss, to Washington, came with Barkley sidelined with a shoulder injury.

He got that injury in the win at Ohio State. Though struggling with a bone bruise, Barkley completed three passes for 35 yards on a 14-play, 86-yard drive that ended with a game-winning TD run by Johnson and a conversion pass to Joe McKnight that made the final difference, 18-15.

That performance in a high-profile game served notice that this is no ordinary freshman at the controls.

"He really has something you're looking for," USC coach Pete Carroll said of Barkley. "The stuff that has really jumped out lately is that he anticipates so well, in throwing the football. He waits until guys get open. He understands the principles of guys getting open in the zone and man (defensive schemes). He throws the ball early.

"That's a tremendous asset, being able to get the ball to guys. It's an instinct he has."

"The one thing (Barkley) does very well is he knows who his playmakers are and he gets the ball in their hands," Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis said. "That is a good tact for a young quarterback to understand."

ESPN's Tood McSHay breaks down the QB's

CJ Gable injured his knee in practice yesterday but he will be available for the ND game.

ESPN debates USC vs. Notre Dame From ted Millers Blog...