Notre Dame Football: Breaking Down How Irish Match Up with Final Two Opponents

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Notre Dame Football: Breaking Down How Irish Match Up with Final Two Opponents
Mark L. Baer-US PRESSWIRE

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are more than 80 percent of the way to completing their first perfect season since 1988. 

Just two games stand between Brian Kelly's squad and 12-0. The Irish will host Wake Forest in Week 12, and travel west to reignite their rivalry with USC two days after Thanksgiving. On the line: A BCS bowl appearance and a possible berth in January's National Championship Game.

Here we break down how Notre Dame matches up with its final two regular season opponents.

 

Wake Forest

Jeremy Brevard-US PRESSWIRE

The good news for Irish fans, Notre Dame will host Wake Forest in South Bend in Week 12, and the Demon Deacons have been every bit as inept as Boston College this season.

Wake Forest's defense has been getting lit up week after week this fall, and its offense, though balanced, doesn't do any one thing particularly well. Quarterback Tanner Price is connecting on just 55 percent of his passes in 2012 while leading rusher Josh Harris hasn't rushed for more than 100 yards in a game since September against Army.

The Irish's No. 1-ranked scoring defense should have absolutely no problem corralling Wake's offense. 

On the offensive side of the ball, Notre Dame will have a decisive advantage with it's potent rushing attack. The Irish rank 33rd in the country in rush offense in terms of yards per game. On Saturday, they'll take on a defense that surrendered 429 yards and four touchdowns the last time it faced a ground attack ranked higher than Notre Dame's. 

Although 11-0 isn't a guarantee, it's very likely given how well the Irish match up with Wake. 

 

USC

Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE

The most feared aspect of the USC Trojans is their vaunted passing attack. Matt Barkley and company rank 17th in the nation in passing yards per game, averaging more than 300 yards through the air. 

The key for Notre Dame will be getting constant pressure on Barkley and forcing him to get the ball out of his hands quickly. Otherwise he could pick the Irish and their BCS hopes apart. Getting pressure on Barkley is easier said than done, though, especially considering that the Trojans will have home-field advantage in this matchup.

Offensively, the Irish shouldn't struggle more than usual. In its two most recent losses to Arizona and Oregon, USC surrendered 39 and 62 points, respectively. Clearly, yards and points can be had against the Trojans. 

But we can forget about Everett Golson and the Irish offense, because if Manti Te'o and the defense can't slow Barkley, Marqise Lee and Robert Woods then Notre Dame's last game will be its first loss.

November 24's showdown in Los Angeles is hands-down the biggest potential roadblock in Notre Dame's journey to 12-0.

 

Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter. 

Follow _Pat_Clarke on Twitter

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