The rivalry between USC and Notre Dame has become a little more interesting with the return of USC star wide receiver Marqise Lee.
Lee will return to the field this Saturday against Notre Dame after a two-week hiatus from a sprained knee injury, according to Johnny Curren of ESPN.com.
Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times reported that the All-American was listed as questionable by interim coach Ed Orgeron on Monday, but after Lee’s first practice on Tuesday, Orgeron changed his tune.
"I didn't know he was going to come out and do the things that he did," Orgeron said. "Obviously, he looked a little bit better."
Lee leads USC (4-2, 1-2 Pac-12) with a less than impressive 30 receptions for 385 yards. For comparison, through six games last season he hauled in 54 balls for 681 yards, including seven touchdowns. He also had over 100 yards in three of those games. So far in 2013, Lee has one touchdown and one 100-yard game, which came in the opener against Hawaii.
Last year, Lee caught a school-record 118 passes. His passing game will be key for the Trojans against the Fighting Irish (4-2), who have been struggling with passing defense. Notre Dame’s defense is currently giving up 252.2 yards per game through the air.
The return of Lee could be a major factor in this matchup.
This game was already less anticipated than usual, as both teams are unranked and Lee is the only marquee player for the Trojans.
With an unspectacular start to the season, Lee should be eager to prove himself when he returns to the field, and he sounds ready according to the ESPN report.
"I'm good and I had a great day today," Lee said. "I think that I'm coming around pretty good. I think by Saturday afternoon I'll be OK -- 100 percent."
It will take Lee’s Saturday performance and then more to see if he will be a top performer this season. At the very least, his team will need him in a tough road matchup at Notre Dame Stadium.