The USC Trojans host the undefeated, top-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish in a prime-time Showdown Saturday rivalry game tonight. With no hopes of a BCS bowl of their own, the Trojans are aiming to upset the Irish and end Notre Dame’s undefeated season and national title run.
Notre Dame’s season-long win streak isn’t the only one on the line tonight. The Trojans hosted ESPN’s College Gameday broadcast bright and early this morning, where Lee Corso, who is 19-0 all-time in his picks for USC games, predicted a win for the Irish.
Corso is 15-0 when picking the Trojans to win and 4-0 picking against them. USC heads into this game unranked after starting the year as the preseason No. 1 and will have a tough time upsetting the Irish, especially with new starting quarterback Max Wittek.
Corso initially put his Kelly green fedora on backwards, but his pick at the end of the broadcast excited the crowd, which was filled with about as many Notre Dame fans as Trojans.
It was, as expected, a tepid turnout from the USC fanbase, despite ESPN’s Chris Fowler’s on-air challenge to Trojans fans earlier this week.
Los Angeles sports fans aren’t exactly known for their rabid passion for their local teams, and the 6 a.m. broadcast time on the holiday weekend didn’t help matters.
A dad decked out in USC colors carried his young son, wearing a #2 Robert Woods jersey, on his shoulders, but the pair left about halfway through the show when the boy, who apparently begged to come to the Gameday broadcast, ran out of steam.
“Ok, let’s go home and watch the end,” he said as the exhausted youngster buried his head in his dad’s shoulder.
The team’s disappointing 7-4 season has had many moment that made Trojans fans cover their faces. If this was the last stop on Matt Barkley‘s victorious Unfinished Business tour, more fans might have showed up, but many USC faithful have lost faith in this year’s team.
Some people who showed up on Saturday morning took their frustrations out on College Gameday signs, criticizing head coach Lane Kiffin (“Lane Kiffin Has Daddy Issues” and “Hey Kiffin, Tennessee is Hiring”) and mocking USC’s grandiose hopes for this year. One sign played on the USC Athletics Department’s “We PLAY” marketing campaign: “We PLAY to Lower Expectations.”
There wasn’t much incentive for frustrated USC fans to drag themselves out of bed early on the Saturday after Thanksgiving (or, in the case of many students, to return to campus early from the holiday), but after spending the day tailgating on campus, the crowd at the game should be a little more enthusiastic.
The team will need their support as they play the last significant game of their season, against one of their greatest rivals.