SOUTH BEND, Ind. — In case you haven’t been paying attention, college football is rapidly changing.
A decade ago, the sport had no playoff. Players transferring from one school to another was a rare occurrence. And a student-athlete so much as receiving a free meal from his university was grounds for a major NCAA violation.
Fast forward ten years, and college football as we have come to know it is turning on its head. There is already a four-team playoff, and that number is about to expand to twelve teams next year. The introduction of the NCAA Transfer Portal has created quasi-free agency for student-athletes. The adaptation of name, image, and likeness (NIL) rules has allowed players to profit off of endorsement deals while still in college. And that is before you even get to conference realignment, which has completely altered the landscape of the sport.
But through all of those changes, one aspect of college football has remained the same: USC and Notre Dame.
On Saturday evening in South Bend, Indiana, the two storied programs will meet for the 94th iteration of college football’s greatest intersectional rivalry. Outside of 2020—when the game was cancelled due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Trojans and the Fighting Irish have met every season since the conclusion of World War II.
In odd years, such as this one, USC travels to South Bend in mid-October. In even years, Notre Dame pays a Thanksgiving weekend visit to the Coliseum in Los Angeles.
USC vs. Notre Dame is arguably the most unique rivalry in all of college football in that the two schools share neither a conference nor any geographic ties to one another. It is simply a matchup of two storied program’s that do not particularly care for one another.
“I grew up a USC fan, I grew up watching USC vs. Notre Dame,” said safety Max Williams. “One of the reasons why you come to USC is to play against Notre Dame.”
“We all know how big of a game it is.”
“It’ll be one of of those games that you just remember for the rest of your life,” added rush end Jamil Muhammad, who will be getting his first taste of the USC-Notre Dame rivalry after transferring from Georgia State this past winter. “I’m really excited.”
The two programs plan to continue the rivalry for the foreseeable future, as well. Despite USC’s impending move to the Big Ten Conference next season, both the Trojans and the Irish have affirmed their commitment to continue the series going forward, with plans in place to extend the current contract which expires following their 2026 meeting.
College football may be rapidly changing. But USC and Notre Dame appear committed to keeping their annual battle in place going forward.
It truly is a timeless rivalry.