Tarriel Hopper is a fifth-year senior who, along with all of his teammates, has never experienced a victory over Notre Dame. Hopper, however, can remember USC's last victory over the Irish in 1982 because his brother, Darrel, was a part-time starting defensive back for the Trojans that season.
"I would have never thought that that would have been the last time we beat them," said Hopper, a reserve linebacker and key special teams player. "Especially when you consider, back then SC had won 11 of the last 13 games. It's just incredible."
When he was recruited at Carson High by Notre Dame in 1991, Hopper remembered how Darrel's college playing career ended prematurely because of a knee injury against the Irish in 1984.
"I guess, I always hated the Irish," Hopper said. "When they came to recruit me, I told them that I was not interested. I remember how my brother was not able to play in the Rose Bowl because he got hurt against them. This is the year not only for USC to beat Notre Dame for tradition, but for my family too."
Coach John Robinson says what makes the USC-Notre Dame rivalry so great is how former players watch the game.
"I think the outside influence that is most important in this game is that there are guys watching who played in the game," he said. "I don't care as much about the people that have gone to the game, but the guys who played in it and remember it, I care about them. I think you want to look at that game, whether you're a Notre Dame player or an SC player, and remember it as special."