Matt Cashore-US PRESSWIRE
The Irish can punch their tickets to Miami with a win on Saturday.
One win away. If the No. 1 Notre Dame Fighting Irish can defeat the USC Trojans (7-4) in Los Angeles on Saturday night, they'll clinch a spot in the BCS Championship game -- likely against the winner of the SEC. The Irish (11-0) have beat the Trojans just once since 2002, and were steamrolled at home last season in a 31-17 loss. But Saturday's game figures to be different.
The Irish will be facing a Trojan team minus star quarterback Matt Barkley, who injured his shoulder in last week's loss to UCLA. In his place will be redshirt freshman Max Wittek, a celebrated recruit but one who has never started a game in college. For his career (and the season), Wittek has completed 8-9 passes for 95 yards, appearing in garbage time in three games in 2012.
He and the rest of the Trojans offense will be facing a Notre Dame defense that leads in the country in scoring defense, having allowed just 10.1 points per game. The Irish defense is also No. 11 in the country in opponent's passer rating. No. 12 in sacks and has picked off 14 passes in 11 games. Smother the USC freshman, and Notre Dame is likely looking at a championship chance.
Game time, TV channel: 8 p.m. ET, ABC
Online streaming video: WatchESPN
Point spread: Notre Dame by 4 points
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