---- — ing forward to those days where it’s a great matchup year in and year out,” he said.
The Irish have not beaten USC at Notre Dame Stadium since 2001. When that fact was pointed out to Kelly earlier this week, he said he was not aware of it.
And USC interim coach Ed Orgeron said he doesn’t want his team focusing on that fact, either.
“There’s been a lot put on this team,” Orgeron said.
The Trojans, Orgeron added, are focusing on the game being Game 2 of a new season after the firing of Lane Kiffin.
If Orgeron’s Trojans can beat the Irish tonight, he would join John Robinson and Paul Hackett as the only USC coaches to beat Notre Dame in their first season.
The USC defense has struggled in recent weeks, especially in a 62-41 loss to Arizona State that led to Kiffin’s ouster.
In the past two games, opponents have scored 93 points, rushed for 406 yards, passed for 714 yards and have scored on nine of 10 trips inside the end zone, including six touchdowns.
Orgeron said the problems are fixable.
“We have not been playing the quarterback very well,” Orgeron said. “Spread teams are giving us problems.”
Orgeron has been pleased with the progress of redshirt sophomore quarterback Cody Kessler.
“Cody’s growing into his position and becoming a leader,” Orgeron said.
Kessler has completed 81-of-134 passes for 1,129 yards and eight TDs with four interceptions so far in 2013.
Game-time temperatures are expected to be in the mid-40s, and USC is 9-7 in cold-weather games over its history.
The field at Notre Dame Stadium has been resodded again — the latest turf replacement coming after the Oklahoma game.
Kelly said he hasn’t seen the field, but has heard good reports. “We’re hopeful. We expect good results,” he said. “There is a bit of uncertainty when you don’t, obviously, know what to expect.”
The meeting between the Irish and Trojans is the 85th in series history. Notre Dame holds a 44-35-5 overall edge in the series overall, including 23-14-1 at Notre Dame Stadium ... The first game in the series was in 1926, when legendary Irish coach Knute Rockne became the first Midwestern coach to take a team to the West Coast. Notre Dame won that game, 13-12 and the two teams have played every year since except for 1943-45, when World War II travel restrictions caused a three-year hiatus ... Notre Dame is 62-17-2 after a bye week (.788) since 1900. Kelly is 13-2 coming off a bye week... Notre Dame’s 44 wins are the most by any Trojan opponent. California is second with 30.