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College Football

Scouting Report

November 30, 2002

No. 7 NOTRE DAME (10-1)

at NO. 6 USC (9-2)

Today, 5 p.m., Coliseum

TV -- Channel 7

Radio -- KMPC (1540), XPRS (1090, Spanish), KPLS (830)

WHEN USC HAS THE BALL

Quarterback Carson Palmer has completed 62.1% of his passes for 3,214 yards and has thrown only two interceptions in the last five games. If tailback Justin Fargas runs the ball effectively, Notre Dame could be susceptible to play-action passes. Freshman wide receiver Mike Williams was a step slow the last two games because of a thigh bruise but appears to be back at full speed. Flanker Keary Colbert showed he's a multiple threat by scoring on a 34-yard reverse last week. Center Norm Katnik suffered a high ankle sprain against UCLA, but is expected to play. If Katnik cannot play, Derek Graf will start in his place. Notre Dame's defense ranks fifth in the nation and is in the top 20 in every defensive category. Linebacker Courtney Wilson is the leading tackler.

WHEN NOTRE DAME HAS THE BALL

Junior quarterback Carlyle Holiday has completed 52.3% of his passes for 1,696 yards and 10 touchdowns with two interceptions in 222 attempts. Sophomore running back Ryan Grant averages 4.4 yards a carry and has rushed for 1,001 yards behind an offensive line that features senior center Jeff Faine, a Lombardi Award semifinalist. Wide receiver Arnaz Battle is averaging 15.1 yards a catch and 21.1 yards on kickoff returns. The Fighting Irish are going against a Trojan defense that has not allowed an opposing runner to gain more than 100 yards.

KEYS TO USC VICTORY

Establish the running game: Carson Palmer and his receivers need space to work against Notre Dame's opportunistic defense, and Justin Fargas can provide it if he rushes as he did when he gained 139 yards against Oregon and 125 against Arizona State.

Avoid turnovers: The Trojans must continue to take care of the ball. They have not lost a fumble, thrown an interception or had a kick blocked in two games.

Neutralize Notre Dame special teams: Vontez Duff ranks fourth in the nation in kickoff-return average at 29.2 yards and also is a threat returning punts.

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HOW THEY COMPARE

*--* USC ND 34.8 Scoring 24.6 19.1 Points Allowed 13.2 296.4 Passing Offense 181.3 129.1 Rushing Offense 153.4 425.5 Total Offense 334.6 213.5 Passing Defense 180.2 83.9 Rushing Defense 90.5 297.5 Total Defense 270.6

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