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November 24, 2000|DAVID WHARTON

No. 11 Notre Dame (8-2) at USC (5-6)

* Kickoff: 12:30 p.m. Saturday at the Coliseum, Channel 7.

* Story line: There is $13.5 million on the line when Notre Dame comes West for this intersectional rivalry. The Fighting Irish need a victory to secure a spot in a bowl championship series game and a big payday. The Trojans eased the pain of a difficult season by defeating UCLA last week and would love to finish with a victory over their rival on national television.

* USC update: The Trojans are nicked up along the offensive line and on defense but will need every healthy body they can muster against a physical Notre Dame team. USC cannot afford to let the Irish dominate the line of scrimmage.

* Notre Dame update: The Irish secondary lost cornerback Shane Walton because of a broken right forearm suffered last week against Rutgers. Clifford Jefferson is expected to recover from a sprained ankle to take his place. Senior tight end Jabari Holloway is also expected to miss the game because of a sprained knee but senior Dan O'Leary has plenty of experience.

* Edge to Notre Dame: This isn't the Bruins. The Irish have an old-fashioned running game, a steady defense and lethal special teams. In other words, they have all the consistency that USC has lacked. The Trojans could use an encore from Carson Palmer, who had the best game of his career against UCLA.

* Line: Pick

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