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USC's Ed Orgeron doesn't want big deal made of playing Notre Dame

USC plays Notre Dame on Saturday in the 85th game in their storied series.

But Ed Orgeron, the Trojans' interim coach, has shied from hitting his players over the head with too much history.

"I don't want to make it bigger than life," Orgeron said Monday.

The Trojans already have plenty to deal with.

USC is just over two weeks removed from Lane Kiffin's firing, and it has been less than a week since the Trojans held off Arizona for a 38-31 victory in Orgeron's first game overseeing the program.

"This is Game 2 of our season together," Orgeron said.

If USC defeats the Fighting Irish, Orgeron would join John Robinson and Paul Hackett as the only new Trojans coaches to guide USC to victory in their first games against Notre Dame.

No new USC coach has won a debut against Notre Dame at Notre Dame Stadium.

Orgeron has related to players what the game means to the school, fans and to USC's alumni — "This is a big game for everybody," he said — but cautioned that it should not be bigger than any other to them personally or collectively.

After USC's victory over Arizona, Trojans players said they were looking forward to playing at Notre Dame Stadium, where USC has not lost since 2001.

"It's a fun place to play," said senior offensive lineman Kevin Graf. "We're excited to get over there."

Said freshman safety Su'a Cravens: "New coach, new beginning, 1-0, ready for Notre Dame."

More rotations

Taking a cue from the offense, which rotated in five tailbacks against Arizona, Orgeron said more defensive players would play against Notre Dame.

Lineman Antwaun Woods and linebackers Jabari Ruffin and Anthony Sarao are among those who could play more to help rest starters.

That opportunity, Orgeron said, raises practice performance.

"More guys are into it," he said. "The accountability factor is much higher."

Quick hits

Tailback Tre Madden (hamstring) has joined linebacker Morgan Breslin (hip) and receiver Marqise Lee (knee) as questionable for Saturday's game, Orgeron said. Receivers Darreus Rogers and De'Von Flournoy practiced and were not included on the injured list, meaning they should be available Saturday. ... USC is 35-44-5 against Notre Dame in a series that began in 1926.

gary.klein@latimes.com

Twitter: @latimesklein

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