It feels awfully strange to say, but the only obstacle between No. 1 Notre Dame and a berth in the BCS National Championship Game is a victory over traditional rival USC on Saturday evening in Los Angeles.
The Trojans began the season as the country's top-ranked team, but tumbled out of the Top 25 altogether after losing games to Stanford, Arizona, Oregon and UCLA.
To make matters worse, the Trojans will be without starting quarterback Matt Barkley against the Irish, as the senior signal-caller suffered a separated throwing shoulder during his team's 38-28 loss to crosstown rival UCLA last week.
So how will USC match up with Notre Dame without Barkley?
For that answer and more, let's get started with this week's game preview.