Brian Kelly said Tuesday that his players would be the first to say USC is Notre Dame's biggest rival. The Irish players definitely said that Wednesday night.
"They don't like us, we don't like them," Irish captain and cornerback Bennett Jackson explains. "We don't really care. I'm sure they don't really care. It's bragging rights."
"We have a bunch of catholic kids. they probably hate the catholic kids that came here and the catholic kids that came here, probably hate them," Jackson added with a smile and smirk. "It's always a fun matchup, especially since everyone amps it up so much."
Notre Dame defeated USC last year in Los Angeles to book at ticket to the national championship game. The stakes aren't as high this year but a win over USC is always special.
Irish senior Tommy Rees can become the first Irish starting quarterback to win two games over the Trojans since Rick Mirer in the early 1990s. Rees says he's not concerned with any of that but acknowledges the importance of this game.
"When you think of college football, you think of ND-USC," Rees said. "It's one of those keynote games."
No one knows that better than Irish wide receiver and captain TJ Jones, who's late father Andre helped the Irish beat the Trojans in 1988 en route to Notre Dame's last national championship.
"It means a lot," TJ says. "Deep-rooted with my family having ties to Notre Dame going way back and for myself, kind of going out senior year---night game, USC-Notre Dame. doesn't get much bigger."
The two arch rivals met under the lights at Notre Dame Stadium two years ago, with USC prevailing 31-17.
Kickoff Saturday night at the Stadium is set for 7:30.
Coverage on WNDU begins at 5pm Saturday with the NBC Sports Special: Onward Notre Dame. Then stay tuned for NewsCenter 16 at 6 live from the Stadium followed by Countdown to Kickoff at 6:30, leading you up to the Irish and Trojans---all on channel 16.