College football: Around the nation
BY Associated Press
Saturday, November 24, 2012
11/24/12 at 3:21 AM
No. 1 Notre Dame at Southern Cal 7 p.m. Saturday TV: KTUL-8
Freshman USC quarterback not shy about confidence vs. Irish
Not many young quarterbacks would even have the audacity to imagine making their first career starts under the circumstances surrounding Max Wittek at the Coliseum on Saturday night.
The freshman is replacing Matt Barkley, an injured senior who has claimed most of the career passing records at Southern California. He's facing Notre Dame (11-0), a storied football power with a No. 1 ranking and the nation's most feared defense.
The Irish need just one more win to book a spot in the national title game, and the struggling Trojans (7-4) have lost three of four. Yet Wittek also has arguably the best receiving duo in the nation catching his passes and a sold-out stadium firmly at his back.
If the enormity of this occasion is scaring Wittek, the confident 19-year-old with a bigger arm than Barkley hasn't shown it a bit.
"You really can't ask for a better opportunity to show what you've got," Wittek said. "I just want to get that first snap, maybe that first hit, out of the way, and I'll be ready to go."
Although USC has dominated the past decade in this delicious intersectional rivalry, winning nine of 10 and missing a clean sweep by one dropped touchdown pass two years ago, Wittek and the Trojans realize most of the pressure is on the other sideline this time.
The Irish are just one win away from completing a remarkable run to the BCS title game in coach Brian Kelly's third season. With so many pressure-packed wins already behind them this season, the Irish will hit the field in downtown Los Angeles simply trying not to get caught up in the matchup's history - or the history they'll make with a victory.
"You think about it," Notre Dame safety Zeke Motta said. "In the back of your mind, it's there that if you win this game, you're going to play in the national championship. What more motivation do you need? But I think we want to treat it like any other game. Obviously it's a rivalry game, so we're going to be playing fierce and tough. We're just focused on who we're playing against and sticking it to them."
Notre Dame has done its part to make the schools' 84th meeting appropriately memorable. The Irish head to the Coliseum with the No. 1 ranking for the sixth time in the schools' shared history, and they're unbeaten when facing USC for the first time since 1993.
No. 4 Ohio State vs. No. 20 Michigan 11 a.m. Saturday TV: KTUL-8
Old grudge match has new feel with coaches Hoke, Meyer
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Michigan-Ohio State was just another game, for the most part, until Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler helped transform it into the over-the-top grudge match called "The Game."
Now, more than 40 years later, two coaches steeped in the rivalry - each more than willing to toss a little disrespect toward the other side - will be prowling the sidelines in the 109th meeting on Saturday.
Just like Hayes and Schembechler, Michigan's Brady Hoke and Ohio State's Urban Meyer are Ohio natives who don't do a very good job of hiding the fact that they can barely abide their chief rival.
The fourth-ranked Buckeyes want to complete a perfect season - if that's possible without a bowl trip. The No. 20 Wolverines are shooting for an even better bowl.
No. 12 Clemson vs. No. 13 South Carolina 6 p.m. Saturday TV: ESPN-25
South Carolina looks for fourth straight win over rival Clemson
CLEMSON, S.C. - Steve Spurrier thought people at South Carolina spent too much time focused on Clemson. So Spurrier says he needed to change the mindset.
The Gamecocks coach had to get players and fans to buy into the idea it was not a one-game season. It's working.
No. 13 South Carolina (9-2) will try for its landmark fourth straight series win over No. 12 Clemson (10-1) at Death Valley on Saturday night.
If the Gamecocks pull off the victory, it would be only the second time it's happened in the series - the other was from 1951-54.
Spurrier says he thinks "we take it less seriously than we used to." He says "they overdid" prior to his arrival.