USC athletic director Pat Haden has been around both USC and Notre Dame, playing in college at USC and later serving as color commentator for NBC Sports' coverage of Notre Dame football. According to ESPN LA's Mark Saxon, Haden thinks that the USC-Notre Dame rivalry isn't what it used to be.
Following are Haden's exact words: The kids themselves, if you talk to them, this is just another game in a series of 12. I think all of us- you, me, the old-timers- feel differently than the players do."
Haden's sentiments make sense in the context of his time with the Trojans. In college, Haden played quarterback during one of USC football's most successful periods. From 1972 to 1974, the Trojans lost a total of three games. The team never ranked lower than No. 18 during that entire timeframe and almost always found itself in the Top 10.
Take an in-depth look at the USC-Notre Dame rivalry during those three years after the jump.
In 1972, the No. 1 Trojans played the No. 10 Fighting Irish and came away with a 45-23 win en route to a perfect 12-0 season. In 1973, the No. 6 Trojans played the No. 8 Fighting Irish and lost 23-13, suffering their first loss in just over two years. In 1974, the No. 6 Trojans played the No. 5 Fighting Irish and won 55-23 to wrap up a 9-1-1 regular season.
One thing you'll notice from all of those games is that both teams were ranked very high during each of the three encounters, without a single exception. The high stakes for both teams surely played a part in those rivalry games.
This year's game won't have quite the same atmosphere around it. Neither USC (5-1) nor Notre Dame (4-2) are ranked right now, but both squads are good programs that will be itching for a win against a long-time rival. This game may not have the same magnitude that surrounded the USC-Notre Dame games of the 70's, but it will definitely turn heads and peak the interest of fans nationwide when the two teams square off on Saturday night.