Streaking USC to host Notre Dame

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 24, 2016

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The 12th-ranked University of Southern California Trojans (8-3, 7-2) wrap up their regular season Saturday against the rival Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the L.A. Coliseum, having completed the conference schedule with seven consecutive victories. One of those wins came against Colorado, which is 7-1 in the league but plays host to a tough Utah team Saturday after the USC game.

If the Utes win, the Trojans advance to the conference title game as the Pac-12 South winner because of its head-to-head victory over the Buffaloes.

“We’ll be big Utah fans next week,” USC coach Clay Helton said after his team beat UCLA 36-14 on Saturday night at the Rose Bowl. “We’ve set our mark at 7-2, and we’ve got to see if Colorado can match it.”

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As for what the Trojans can control, they can only continue to play well and hope to position themselves for the biggest bowl possible. Nothing less than a smackdown of struggling Notre Dame (4-7), which coughed up a pair of 17-point leads last week in a 34-31 home loss to Virginia Tech, is expected.

The hits kept coming Tuesday when the NCAA ruled that Notre Dame must vacate wins from the 2012 and 2013 seasons due to academic misconduct, stemming from a student athletic trainer completing coursework for football players. The university announced it would appeal the decision.

The 2012 season includes a 12-0 run in the regular season.

Kelly called it “student on student” cheating, adding that he felt “zero” responsibility in the matter.

“I’m proud of our support staff, our academic support staff,” he said. “I’m proud of the people that represented us here at Notre Dame during this time.”

While the school litigates those old victories, Kelly and the Irish will be trying to pull off an upset to get one more in 2016.