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Campus anticipates clash with Trojans

Irena Zajickova | Thursday, October 15, 2009

The level of football fervor on campus has been unprecedented in anticipation of the toughest test yet for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish against the USC Trojans on Saturday.

“You can feel the excitement, from people talking about it in the dining halls to the chalk messages all over the sidewalks,” senior Caitlin Harrington said. “Campus is buzzing.”

Part of the reason students are looking forward to this game so much is because of the football team’s improved performance from past years, Dan Scime, a junior from Siegfried Hall, said.

“I think every Notre Dame student is pumped up for this game,” Scime said. “Most people see it as our best shot to beat USC since the Bush Push game in 2005.”

Tim Powers, a junior in Morrissey Hall, was at the 2005 game where Notre Dame appeared to have eked out a victory only to be defeated 34-31 with seven seconds remaining on a controversial play when USC running back Reggie Bush pushed quarterback Matt Leinart into the endzone. Powers said he has been looking forward to seeing the Irish defeat USC since that game.

“I’ve been waiting for this game since the 2005 Bush Push game,” Powers said. “It was such a tough loss.”

All week, students have been hanging banners and posters, writing chalk messages on the sidewalks and circulating Facebook messages with other suggestions about how to prepare for the game. One such suggestion involves a “green-out” of the student section, in which all students would wear Kelly green apparel instead of The Shirt.

Another involves going to “greet” Trojan players and coaches when they arrive on campus Friday afternoon.

In addition to unofficial events planned by the student body, the athletic department is planning events as well, according to Dan Collins, better known as Notre Dame’s leprechaun.

“We’re planning an uncut, unscripted version of a pep rally on Irish Green with the whole team in attendance and some special guest speakers that people won’t want to miss,” Collins said. “There will also be a special call to arms version of drummer’s circle with special guests.”

Groups of students are each finding their own ways to get excited for this game.

“I don’t think I have ever been more excited for a game,” Christine Hamma, a sophomore from Lewis Hall, said. “My friends and I are going all out, including painting head-to-toe, dyeing our hair green, and singing the Fight Song every hour on the hour, starting 24 hours before kickoff.”

Hamma is hopeful about the team’s shot at winning, based on its performance this season and the emotion that comes with the USC rivalry.

“I think we have a good chance of winning because our offense has really come together and our defense is stepping up,” Hamma said. “Not to mention the extreme hatred built up towards the opposition.”

Powers agreed, and said a win would raise quarterback Jimmy Clausen’s standing in the Heisman Trophy discussion.

“If the team plays to its strengths and Jimmy plays like he has been and the defense steps up this will be a huge win,” Powers said. “I think then Jimmy could be the frontrunner for the Heisman.”

The game kicks off at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.