Notre Dame football set for rivalry meeting with USC
Notre Dame football returns to the field this weekend, welcoming rival USC for a night game at Notre Dame Stadium.
The meeting features two ranked teams, as the Irish come in at No. 13 in this week's AP Top 25 and USC ranks No. 11.
This will be the 89th meeting between the two intersectional rivals, and Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said his players are well aware of the magnitude of the series.
"[USC] is a very good football team," he said. "I think we knew that this USC team after last year was going to be a Top-10 team, and that's what they are. Excited about the challenge."
That challenge was made a little easier being preceded by a week off. Notre Dame's bye not only gave the Fighting Irish several extra days to prepare, but also to get a few impact players back to full strength.
Kelly said his running back group is now healthy, after Josh Adams and Tony Jones, Jr. were dealing with ankle injuries earlier in the season. On the other hand, starting linebacker and captain Greer Martini injured his knee in practice and is day-to-day.
Also healthy is quarterback Brandon Wimbush. The starter missed Notre Dame's last game after spraining his foot against Miami (OH), but Kelly says he's good to go against the Trojans.
"There are no questions about his health, so I think we can put that to rest," said Kelly. "He's 100 percent. There's no health issues at all. I think he continues to grow and develop at as a quarterback."
That growth is expected as the Irish begin a difficult stretch in the second half of the 2017 schedule, in which five of the remaining six teams are ranked.
"Our players know what they need to do," said Kelly. "They have to play to a high standard."
Two players were recognized for meeting that standard thus far. Left guard Quentin Nelson and left tackle Mike McGlinchey were both named mid-season All-Americans. Nelson was named to the first-team and McGlinchey to the second-team.
Saturday's game against USC is set to kick off at 7:48 p.m.
While tickets are sold out for the game against the Trojans, there are still some available for the final three games of the season.