Notre Dame football: Irish welcome rival Trojans
SOUTH BEND - Yes, from Notre Dame's point of view, this is a rivalry game.
Irish coach Brian Kelly, who earlier this year received heat for downplaying ND's rivalry with Michigan, said Tuesday at his weekly press conference that this is a game that is on ND's calendar.
"Our players would be the first to admit that this is our rivalry game ... one that we really look forward to," the fourth-year coach said.
The 4-2 Irish host 4-2 USC Saturday night, the 85th meeting between the teams. Neither team is ranked in the latest polls.
The Irish are facing an SC team that has already gone through a coaching change as Lane Kiffin was fired on Sept. 29 and replaced by assistant Ed Orgeron on an interim basis. USC responded to the change with a 38-31 win over Arizona under the emotional Orgeron.
"His personality is coming out in his football team," Kelly said. "He's certainly somebody familiar with all his players. He's got them playing with a lot of energy, a lot of enthusiasm."
The Irish were off last weekend after a 37-34 victory over Arizona State on Oct. 5. Kelly said the week consisted of a combination of weight training, conditioning and rest. Younger players were given more attention in practice while the workload was lightened for veterans.
"Back to work this week," Kelly said.
While USC is down numbers-wise because of NCAA penalties, the Trojans still possess a talented roster.
"They certainly provide you with a number of different weapons to worry about," Kelly said.
Kelly said that injured defensive end Sheldon Day, who sat out the Michigan State and Oklahoma games, and most of the Arizona State game, practiced on Monday and is expected to play against USC.
Kickoff is set for 7:41 p.m. (Eastern) and the game will air on NBC.