- Matt Fortuna, ESPN Staff Writer
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USC was the preseason No. 1 team last season and ended up becoming an unranked team that lost to No. 1 Notre Dame at home to close the regular season. And Notre Dame, for good measure, was unranked heading into the season. The Irish hosted their first night game in 21 years in 2011, only to have the Trojans ruin the party. Which rival will get the best of each other this time around, on Oct. 19? The road team has won the last four games in this series.
To read previous entries from this series, click here.
Offense: Marqise Lee, WR. What has Lee not accomplished in his first two years in Los Angeles? Last year he won Pac-12 offensive player of the year honors, won the the Biletnikoff Award (nation's top receiver) and was a unanimous first-team All-American. He probably would have received much more Heisman Trophy consideration had his team not struggled so much last season. But his numbers were outstanding: 118 catches for 1,721 yards with 14 touchdowns, not to mention 13 carries for 106 yards and a 28.5 yard-per-kick-return average, including another score. In short, keep an eye on him at all times, as he is a threat to score from anywhere on the field. Last year Notre Dame committed a number of (smart) pass interference penalties on Lee, who finished with five catches for 75 yards and had a 43-yard kickoff return.
Defense: Morgan Breslin, DE/OLB. The 6-foot-2, 250-pound senior will be featured in more of a hybrid role this season under new defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast. In his first year at USC after transferring from Diablo Valley Junior College, Breslin finished with team-bests of 19.5 tackles for loss and 13 sacks while also forcing a fumble and recovering another. He was named an honorable mention All-American by several outlets, and he was credited with half of a sack in the regular-season finale against Notre Dame.
USC was the preseason No. 1 team last season and ended up becoming an unranked team that lost to No. 1 Notre Dame at home to close the regular season. And Notre Dame, for good measure, was unranked heading into the season.