Notre Dame looks to get even against USC

Updated: October 17, 2003, 3:28 PM ET

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Notre Dame is looking to get even against USC.

The Fighting Irish (2-3) are not only trying to even their record, but they're eager to pay back the fifth-ranked Trojans (5-1) for a 44-13 loss last season that cost them a spot in a BCS game.

"Calling it 'wanting revenge' is an understatement," Irish linebacker Courtney Watson said. "You want to go out and prove that we're a lot better team than we showed."

Last year, the Irish came into this rivalry game with the nation's fourth-rated defense. But Southern California piled up 610 total yards as Carson Palmer all but clinched the Heisman Trophy by passing for 425 yards and four touchdowns.

Watson said he was especially riled after reading postgame remarks by USC's Mike Williams. The wide receiver was quoted as saying the Trojans knew the Irish weren't physical or fast and the Irish coaches did a good job of "disguising their weaknesses."

"I'd like to get some shots on Mike Williams," Watson said. "He's been running his mouth a lot. It's always funny when you have a wide receiver who likes to talk trash when they hardly ever get touched and is always out playing on the perimeter."

USC coach Pete Carroll said he hasn't even mentioned last year's game.

"They want to get back after last year and we want to keep it going," Carroll said. "I think both teams will play like everything is on the line."

There is a lot on the line. USC lost in triple overtime at California three weeks ago. A loss to Notre Dame would end the Trojans' hopes for a national title.

Notre Dame, meanwhile, is trying keep its bowl hopes alive. The Irish, who lost at home to Michigan State four weeks ago, also are seeking to avoid losing two straight at home in a single season since 1997, Bob Davie's first year as coach.

USC has won just once at Notre Dame Stadium since 1983.

"We know we are representing all of the great players that played before us and the great coaches that have coached in this matchup," Carroll said. "It has that special feel that we look forward to."

The Irish need to slow down USC's offense, which is averaging 38.5 points a game. Notre Dame has scored a total of 46 points in its last four games.

The 31-point victory last season matched USC's biggest win against the Irish, and a touchdown midway through the fourth quarter with the starters still in upset some Notre Dame fans.

Coach Tyrone Willingham and the Irish, though, said they had no problem with the way the Trojans played.

Cornerback Vontez Duff said he would have done the same thing.

"They just flat out beat us," Duff said. "No matter how many yards they got, what they did, they just flat out whipped us up and down the field. We just have to do whatever we can do to make sure that doesn't happen again."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index

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