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Irish Insights

File | Associated Press
In this Oct. 27, 1973, file photo, Notre Dame's Greg Collins,tries to make the tackle as Southern California's Anthony Davis reaches for a 4-yard gain.

Notre Dame ready to face rival USC

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly made sure there was no controversy about the importance of the Irish's home game Saturday night against USC.

After taking flak for downplaying Notre Dame's rivalry against Michigan earlier this season, Kelly didn't let that be an issue during his Tuesday press conference.

"We're excited about Notre Dame-USC, a great rivalry game," Kelly said. "Our guys certainly recognize it as our rivalry game, and it should be just a great football game."

The Irish and Trojans both enter the game with 4-2 records and unranked in The Associated Press Top 25.

Notre Dame was off last week, while USC rebounded from the midseason firing of coach Lane Kiffin with a 38-31 win over Arizona under interim coach Ed Orgeron.

"Coach Orgeron has been around," Kelly said. "He's a veteran college football coach. He's not going to go in there and scuttle the offense and defense and special teams.

"His personality is coming out in this football team, but he knows all of his players. There's an offensive coordinator and a defensive coordinator for a reason. They'll be some slight variations, and we'll have to be prepared for that. Again, they're going to be who they are six, seven weeks into the season."

What the Trojans are is a dangerous team, even with the upheaval the program has experienced midway through the season, according to Kelly.

"Offensively, they certainly provide you with a number of different weapons to worry about," Kelly said. "A slew of running backs. All of them are capable of carrying the football. It's hard to pick one guy. There's so much versatility there. You could go five, six deep at the running back position at USC and say, that's a very good football player.

"(Quarterback Cody Kessler) has got certainly two of most exciting wide receivers in (Nelson) Agholor and Marqise Lee on the perimeter that open up things for him. … It's a very talented offense, one that can score a lot of points."

Even though Lee is questionable for the game with a knee injury, Kelly said Notre Dame will prepare like the receiver will play on Saturday night.

And the Irish will prepare this week with one goal in mind, even though the night game is also stacking up to be a big recruiting weekend for the Irish.

"We won't be distracted from the recruiting process," Kelly said. "We've got a recruiting office that will take care of a lot of that.

"As I told our guys, this is pretty simple, right? The atmosphere, the game, the people around will take care of the environment. And then just win the damn game. Win the game. That's what you need to do."