The rivalry between Notre Dame and USC is not born of proximity like the enmity between Alabama and Auburn. It is not about regional dominance like the Big Ten power struggle between Michigan and Ohio State. With campuses and cultures far removed from one another, Notre Dame and USC are only united by one thing: Football greatness.
With 15 national championships and 13 Heisman Trophy winners between them, the Irish and the Trojans have been among the nation's elite sides since they first faced off in 1926. Not surprising given the series' history, the 84th installment in the matchup figures to go a long way toward deciding another national champion. Under head coach Brian Kelly, the Irish arrive in Los Angeles with an unblemished 11-0 record and a berth in the BCS title game on the line.
When the 2012 season began, USC was the team with designs on the national championship. But Matt Barkley and the Trojans were waylaid unexpectedly along the way. Having suffered a shoulder injury in a loss to UCLA, Barkley will not even take the field, leaving a redshirt freshman the tall task of facing the stout Irish defense.
"We're going to win this ballgame," Max Wittek, the Trojans' confident but green (but not in a green jersey way) quarterback said during an interview with ESPN 710 LA.
If Wittek can make good on his guarantee then the 2012 edition of this storied college football rivalry will have a place of prominence among the classic encounters in the series. It will also mark the first time that an unranked USC team has toppled a top-ranked Notre Dame since 1964.
Whether it's the gold of the Irish helmets, the glint of the sword of Troy or the glitter of L.A., this pairing has produced many eye-catching moments through the decades. Here are several of those classic confrontations, from Notre Dame's come-from-behind win in the inaugural matchup in 1926 to the "Green Jersey Game" and the "Bush Push."
Who will add the next rivalry's unforgettable moment?
*All captions via The Associated Press